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ftomelg Dints from f>olg Writ 




Xonfcon : 






A GREAT preacher once said, " There is 
nothing new under the sun." We 
are not sure that we know what he meant, 
and it is a question whether we shall ever 
have the opportunity of asking him. Per- 
haps he meant that, in the world of ideas, 
as in matter, there is only a certain amount 
of capital, and that change the form as you 
will, you cannot add to the whole without 
you can create, — and few of us lay claim to 
that power. 

It is in accordance with this idea that 
the title of the book was chosen. The 

viii PREFACE. 

writer does not claim to have found out 
how to make gold, but he thinks the coin 
bears his image and superscription. Nor 
does he claim literary merit, but feels 
anxious to do good, and especially to put 
some heart into Christian workers ; and he 
will be glad if only he has learned " to 
speak a word in season to him that is 



















XIX. THE LOST AXE . . 222 



John ii. i-n. 

f X 7 HERE did Jesus begin? He must 
begin somewhere. Where is it to 
be ? He had all the world before Him. 
Shall it be at Jerusalem ? There will be a 
crowd of admirers. Yes, there will be a 
crowd, but that is just the difference be- 
tween the Christ and impostors. He does 
not seek a large audience. There is no 
vulgarity about the chosen of God. Where 
shall Jesus begin ? In a palace ? No ; for 
Jesus then, as now, loved a cottage. It is 
to be in a house where a carpenter's widow 
will be an honoured guest. The pearl of 

great price is independent of casket or set- 



ting, and needs not earthly splendour to 
make Him attractive. Where did Jesus 
begin ? * At Cana, near to home. It is a 
poor look-out when a man has to leave home 
to be popular. And if we have Jesus in our 
hearts, He will affect our home. He shall 
change dulness to brightness, and water to 
wine. We shall need true religion to be 
effective near to home. It is of no use 
talking of heavenly things to those who 
know what earth-worms we are. If we 
preach to those who know our lives are un- 
worthy, they will bid us take a dose of our 
own physic. Where shall Jesus begin ? At 
a funeral? No; a wedding. Some people 
can imagine Christ coming to comfort* but 
they cannot understand His coming to make 
glad. If we have Jesus at our amusements, 
He will not shun us in our grief. Ask Him 
■ to the wedding, and in the silence of the 
house where our dead lie in the darkened 
chamber, we shall hear Him whisper, "I 


will never leave thee, I will never forsake 

"His disciples" were asked. — And who 
have so much right at the wedding ? 'Who 
have the same right to laugh and make 
merry as those whom Christ has chosen? 
The man who is going to heaven has a 
right to smile even when other men weep, 
and at a wedding he sees a parable. The 
bride is to share all her husband has, and 
the disciple remembers, that to be joined to 
Christ is to be a sharer of all the riches of 
God. The disciples were invited. Some 
men would like to have Christ, but not His 
Church. The Saviour, but not the saved. 
They are willing to meet them in heaven, 
but not in the same town. 'Will not such 
people feel a little ashamed in heaven ; if 
they should ever come to the company of 
the firstborn ? 

There was want at a wedding! — That is 
not what we look for, but at Cana "they 


wanted wine." Perhaps Christ's disciples 
had increased in number before the wed- 
ding-day, but He took them all. Whenever 
God causes inconvenience He will Himself 
relieve us. We never need fear the em- 
barrassment of success in the Lord's work. 
If He enlists more soldiers, He will find 
weapons and rations. Let our young readers 
mark, there was want at a wedding. Most 
young folks look forward to their marriage, 
that is, if they are the best kind of people 
for this world. Some people are so refined 
they do not care for such matters. However, 
we do not write for those who are more 
spiritual than the Bible. So let those who 
are looking forward to a nest of their own 
remember, that " settling " is not a synonym 
for marrying. It is most likely you may be 
more unsettled then than now. Life is the 
sphere of want. While you are in this world 
you will have to share its fortunes. The 
writer was in the Tower of London the other 


day, and saw the regalia of England. There 
were some splenaid crowns, the diamonds 
and other jewels were a wondrous sight, and 
these were the Queen's; and yet the head- 
dress she wears mostly is not any of these 
jewelled diadems. The same day he looked 
into a print-shop window at the newest por- 
trait of Her Majesty, and on her head was 
a widow's cap ! Whatever else you have to 
leave out, be sure to have the love of God 
in your preparations for the wedding. Then 
Christ can make a crust delicious, and you 
may write on purse, cupboard, bookshelves, 
and even gravestone, " My God shall supply 
all your need." 

At the beginning Christ compelled Nature 
to take her proper place. — It is well to do this 
at the beginning. Begin as you mean to 
hold out. The mother of Jesus was there. 
She had been used to rule her Son. His 
Father has owned Him. " This is my beloved 
Son," had been said ; " henceforth it is meat 


and drink to do" my Father's will." And so 
when Nature would control Grace, she is 
gently pushed on one side with, " What have 
I to do with thee?" Had the gentle Son 
confided to His mother the feelings of His 
heart, which told Him of wondrous popu- 
larity ? and had the mother seen herself great 
in consequence ? And now she is to be 
nothing ! Was this the sword which was 
to pierce her heart ? What is the natural 
tie as compared with the bond which makes 
one the whole of the believers in Jesus ? 
" Whosoever shall do the will of God, the 
same is my brother and my sister and 

Let us see to it that Nature takes her 
place. If God asks for child, or gold, or 
time, or life, let not Nature keep them back. 
Duty, not pleasure, must be the mainspring 
of action. Conscience, not appetite, should 
steer. Nature may be allowed to find the 
sails. Loyalty to Christ must be the helm. 


Like Peter, who knew naturally all about 
fishing, but did not say, " Master, you are a 
carpenter, I am a fisherman, and am sure 
it is useless to go out now." No ; he said, 
"Nevertheless at Thy word. Never mind 
that others will laugh me to scorn as they 
see me put out to sea. They have not 
heard Thee speak the word of command, 
and they will laugh very differently when 
I call them to come and help me store 
the fish." Let Nature wait, her hour will 
come. It is well for her when she is willing 
to fall behind, and whisper to the servants, 
brain and muscle, pen and sword, "What- 
soever He saith unto you, do it." 

In studying Christ's conduct at the begin- 
ning, we may learn HOW TO WORK FOR 
God. — " There were set there six water pots 
of stone." God uses that which is "set there." 
When He made man He did not take part 
of the materials of heaven : the dust of the 
ground was set there. And so Jesus did 


not send away for wine. When He wants 
channels of grace, He moulds them out of 
the earth. His missionaries are not angels, 
but men. Do not let us despise the vessels of 
His grace because they are familiar. Why 
should He not bless the pulpit in our church 
or chapel ? Why should He not bless our 
own family altar? Why should He not 
call out of your class at Sunday-school 
some Moffat, or Hunt, or Martyn ? 

We should do well to imitate the servants. 
How willingly they worked. " Fill the water- 
pots with water." No question. No saying 
of— "Water at a wedding!" No fault-find- 
ing, but instant obedience. They filled 
them — and with more than obedience, en- 
thusiasm—" to the brim." One of the wants 
of the Church is gleeful, enthusiastic service. 
One wonders to see men on 'change, and 
compare them when in church. The news- 
paper is conned as the Bible never is. Give 
us men and women who will obey Christ 


as the servants did, and the water of their 
poor talents shall be changed into the wine 
that shall make the whole world merry with 
delight in the goodness of God. 
At the beginning Jesus taught us that HE 


governor said so, and he knew, for he tasted. 
How shall men judge Christ's wine with- 
out experience ? " O taste, and see that the 
Lord is good." Why do we believe Satan ? 
He knows nothing of redeeming love. It 
was the governor who praised the wine. 
It is a way governors have. Understrappers 
cannot afford to praise anything but them- 
selves. The greater a man is, the more 
ready he is to appreciate greatness in others. 
It is not Satan's plan to give the best last. 
He makes men drunk, and then gives them 
the dregs. There are numbers of men drink- 
ing at his table what they would not have 
looked at when they first sat down. If 
Absalom had known the end ! If he could 


have seen himself lifted up, not on the 
throne, but on an oak, and if he could have 
seen Joab coming, not with a sceptre to 
put in his hand, but a dart to thrust into 
his heart, he would have said " No," and 
dashed the good wine to the ground. 

Some of those who saw the beginning of 
miracles saw the end. They stood on 
Olivet, and watched their Lord as He was 
gently separated from them. They saw 
Him as He was slowly lifted ; they watched 
His hands, still scarred, as they saw Him 
leaving them, but with a blessing. And 
when the heavens received *Him, they would 
be ready to say to each other, " We saw the 
beginning of miracles, but it was nothing to 
this, ' Thou hast kept the good wine until 
now.'" Poor, tempted, harassed disciple, 
who hast so often feared for thyself, and art 
ready to halt at every step ! Take courage, 
grace will be sweeter further on. Do not 
fear that thou wilt not succeed in reaching 


the good land. Though feeble, He can give 
thee strength to overcome. John Bunyan 
knew that, and so he tells us Miss Much- 
afraid " went through the river singing, but 
none could understand what she said." I 
trow they understood at the other side, and 
it would be, 

"Thou hast kept the good wine 
until now!" 



Genesis xliv. i. 

'HP* HIS is one of the many beautiful inci- 
dents in Joseph's life. His brethren 
been feasted, and are now anxious to 
return. Their wives and children will soon 
be needing bread to save them from hunger; 
there must be no delay, and so, apparently 
in answer to their looks of uneasiness, rather 
than their words, the great man gives com- 
mand. The steward, — how times change ! 
He who a little time ago was a slave has now 
servants who haste to do his bidding; so 
many are they that he must have one at 
their head to take the orders from the master 


and see them carried out. " The whirligig 
of fortune brings its own revenge." Yes, he 
who was down yesterday is at the top to-day. 
The maligned and persecuted slave is now 
master of the land. He has no one to dis- 
pute his bidding. It did not look likely that 
one who was sent to jail for such a crime 
would ever be free again, but " God moves 
in a mysterious way His wonders to per- 
form." Take comfort. If you are on the 
side of right, God will see that you are some 
day lifted into your right place. Have you 
been wrongfully accused ? Your Master 
shall vindicate you sooner or later. Com- 
mit your reputation to Him, and if not 
before, the first time He has all the world 
together He will clear you. Everybody shall 
hear that you are right. One wonders what 
that vile wretch, Lady Potiphar, thought 
when she heard the trumpets proclaim 
Joseph the greatest of men. Most likely 
she was glad to eat the corn from Joseph's 


granaries. One would think it would almost 
choke her! 

What a combination there had been, 
designed and undesigned, to keep God's 
favourite down. How the wheels fitted in 
each other, and cruel men and an unclean 
woman joined hand in hand to keep for 
baser use the fine gold ! But 'tis all in vain 
that the wicked combine against the just. 
" Light is sown for the righteous." It is some- 
times late in springing ; but God's harvests 
are large ones, if far on in the autumn before 
gathered. They only linger to grow. Are 
you one of those who feel that you ought to 
rise in the world ? D on't be afraid 
The people want leaders, and if you are the 
right sort of stuff you will have a chance of 
going to the front sooner or later. Don't be 
sentimental, and whine about the "flowers 
that blush unseen." No combination can 
keep you down if you are a " rising " man. 
Never forget that he who had been sold as 


a slave, lied against by a wicked woman, 
wrongfully imprisoned, lived to say to the 
steward of his house, " Fill the men's sacks 
with food," and the men were those who had 
sold him 1 

Joseph has always been a favourite type 
of Jesus.- There is no wonder that it should 
be so. When we think of him, sent by his 
father, seeking his brethren, coming full of 
grace and truth to give them a blessing, while 
they are plotting his death, we are reminded 
of Him who "came unto His own, and His 
own received Him not." And in the generous 
treatment these brethren received at the 
hands of the man they had plotted against, 
we see a picture of the way Jesus, treats those 
who had nailed Him to the tree. " Begin at 
Jerusalem.*' Joseph said, " Now therefore be 
not grieved, nor angry with yourselves, that 
ye sold me hither : for God did send me before 
you to preserve life." Jesus said in Jerusalem, 
by the mouth of His servant, " The people 


of Israel were gathered together for to do 
whatsoever Thy hand and Thy counsel 
determined before to be done." No wonder 
that in all ages the Church has loved to find 
in Joseph the foreshadowing of One who 
loved His brethren to the death. 

" Fill the men's sacks with food ! " It 
seems as though we heard our Joseph, exalted 
to be a Prince and a Saviour, saying to his 
stewards, the ministers and teachers of every 
sort, Fill with food, not flowers. It would 
have been worse than useless to have filled 
the sacks with specimens of the floral beauty 
of Egypt. Hungry men could not eat flowers, 
they cannot now ; and yet some preachers 
act as though poetry and pretty ideas were 
the only things fit for food. Far better put 
a wreath of flowers round the ass's neck than 
put them in the sack where corn should be. 
It is said sometimes of these beautiful 
preachers when their hearers are asked, What 
was it about? what did he tell you?— "Ah, 


it was very beautiful, I was very much 
pleased, but somehow there was nothing to 
carry away ! " 

Food, not chaff 7 — Worse than even flowers, 
for they were pretty to look at before they 
faded, but dry, tasteless preaching, containing 
words without ideas, does not give pleasure, to 
say nothing of profit. What can men make 
of chaff? Of what use is mere verbiage? 
And yet, there are not a few who weary 
their hearers with their platitudes, and wonder 
that men sleep ! Could men or children use 
their time better than in sleep, when preachers 
or Sunday School teachers speak what is 
but chaff, the shroud in which the living 
idea was, but now is not ? 

Food. — What preachers and teachers give 
their hearers has something to do with 
the character of their spiritual life. We 
cannot raise vigorous Christians on sour or 
insipid food, they will not eat enough of it ; 
nor can we rear strong men on weak diet. 



Let them have the finest of the wheat. It is 
in the granary, and only needs serving out. 
The mighty men of past generations of 
Christians were not fed with inferior food. 
The brave men and women who held fast 
the truth were fed on sound doctrine. 

Fill. — Don't give them short measure. 
Full, pressed down, running over. There 
need be no stint. There is plenty. " My 
God shall supply all your need according 
to His riches." Why be afraid to let the 
people have all that God has promised ? 
Fill every sack. Some of them are less 
than others. Let these be filled, whoever 
else may go short. The less the mind 
that comes, the more pains should be taken 
that it has a full sack. Let the thoughtless 
and the ignorant have special care. The 
others can fill for themselves, but these will 
only take what is given them. So let each 
have "as much as they can carry." 

"Put their money in their sacks. I don't 


want it. I don't sell corn to my brethren." 
Oh, how like our royal Joseph ! He does not 
trade, He is a King. His grace is free. Salva- 
tion cannot be of grace and of debt ! Do 
some of my readers feel they need food ? Are 
their souls hungry ? Come to Joseph. Do 
you tell me you have nothing to buy with ? 
You are the most welcome. Capital is rather 
an hindrance than otherwise. It is enough 
for Him to see your hunger-bitten face, to 
make Him cry out, Fill him with what he 
needs. It is without money and without 
price. Money in their sacks. If they have 
any goodness, let them have the benefit. 
One who had been to the royal granary said, 
" My goodness extendeth not to thee, but 
to the saints that are in the earth." Take 
the money home with you. Let your wives 
and your children be the better for it. 

As they set off with their laden sacks they 
remind us of many a congregation. There is 
old Mr. Faithful, — he has his sack full he has 


as much corn as he can carry. No wonder 
that he and his family do not want. He comes 
to the means of grace expecting to receive, 
and is not disappointed. But there is Mr. In- 
credulity : he looks, as usual, not very pleased 
with himself, or with anyone else. Well, 
what is the matter ? You don't seem to have 
any corn. No, I did not think we should 
see the Master, I knew the steward was good 
for nothing, and so did not bring a sack. If 

1 had known Ah, yes ; but here comes 

Little Faith. Well, you have a bag full ? 
Yes ; but I have not as much as Faithful ; you 
see he took a sack, and I had only a pillow 
slip. I might have done better. There, too, 
goes Miss Heedless. She has a sack, and it 
was filled, but there is a hole in the corner, 
and so the birds have a fine time. Still we 
may all sing — 

" So plenteous is the store, 
Enough for all, enough for each, 
Enough for evermore." 



2 Kings iv. 42, 43. 
HIS is a story worthy of an artist's 

pencil. It is a time of famine. There 
has been no rain, and hunger and want 
stare you in the face go where you will. 
The grass is all burned up, the trees look 
as though there had been a fire to dry up 
their sap, the leaves have fallen, and the 
branches are bare ; the cattle and sheep are 
but living skeletons, and bleat and low for 
water, for the want of which they will die! 
How anxiety sits on the faces of all the 
men you see ; even the man of God looks 
sorrowful, as he looks at the hunger-bitten 


faces of the sons of the prophets. Just 
after one of their number had nearly 
poisoned the rest by cooking some dangerous 
herb, they are cheered by the visit of a 
farmer, who comes with food which he in- 
tends for the prophet ; but the old man will 
have his young friends share his fortune. 
Accordingly he bids his servitor give out 
the loaves and corn. What ! Should I set 
this before a hundred men ? He is told 
that he must obey, for God means the 
twenty small cakes and the few ears of corn 
to be a good meal for all those hungry men. 

Here let me say to young men, Dorit 
be in a hurry to leave the old folks. If 
these youngsters had said, as soon as their 
lesson was over, Come, we have had enough 
of the old fellow, let us be off to enjoy our- 
selves, they would have missed a good 
meal. If you will stay and be a comfort to 
those who have been at one time your only 
friends, they will appreciate your affection, 


and do their best to show it. If youth will 

linger near to age, it will share the last 

4 There is in this little piece of Elisha's 


This dearth came in consequence of sin. 

The proud and wicked people would never 
yield, except they were obliged by God's 
strong hand. And when He punishes, 
He makes men know how powerful He 
is. Some men nowadays would not be 
touched in any other way. The writer 
remembers how, in the time of the cattle- 
plague, many ungodly farmers were forced 
to feel the hand of God, and just now we 
have had three or four bad harvests, so that 
many a godless man has felt, if this year 
is not better, he cannot pay his rent, but 
must be ruined. When God takes to preach- 
ing, His voice is heard outside the churches 
and chapels. The bad trade from which 
England is now suffering is to teach us, if 


we are not too stupid to learn, that if we 
will care for God's interests, and feed the 
hungry, and clothe the naked, instead of 
heaping such luxury on ourselves, He will 
bless us, but if not we shall see want at 
our own doors. 

You cannot have retributive providences, 
and only the wicked suffer ; the godly have 
their share of want. Elisha was in need. 
But the godly have some one to look up 
to. David said, " I have been young and 
now am old, yet have I not seen the 
righteous forsaken, nor his seed begging 
bread." Mark, he does not say that it 
never happened, but that in his long life 
he had not seen it. We often forget that 
God is as strong now as ever He was. 
The God of to-day is the God of the Old 
Testament : — the manna God, — the barrel of 
meal God, — the God who has said, " Call upon 
me in the day of trouble and I will deliver 
thee." If God had once broken His word, 


and allowed one of those who trusted on 
Him to be disappointed, His enemy would 
have made the world to know it. Only let 
God forsake one who puts his trust in Him, 
and Satan would put the name and address 
in " the agony column " of the Times. But 
we feel sure he will never need use his 
money for that kind of advertisement ! 

There is here A BEAUTIFUL example OF 
BENEVOLENCE. We don't know the farmer's 
name who relieved the prophet. He was one 
of a noble band of nameless ones, but some 
day God will publish a report, and we shall 
find his name, and if we don't live to see 
that book, we may go to heaven, and Elisha 
will gladly introduce his friend to us. We 
know where he came from, — the village has 
got into the Bible, through the man's good- 
ness. It is possible to make our birthplace 
famous by living for Jesus. We sometimes 
say, he gives twice who gives quickly. The 
farmer gave as soon as he could. There 


seems to have been a little rain that fell 
on his field, and the barley had come up; 
so, as soon as he could, he threshed it, and 
said to the wife, Do be quick and bake me 
a few cakes to take to the prophet. 
" Bread of the first fruits," we are told it 
was. Don't wait till you have churned, and 
give God the butter-milk. For many wait 
to be rich before they will be generous, 
only to find that their heart is too sour to 
give anything. First fruits ! Young men, 
do not wait till the candle of your life is 
burned to the socket, and offer Him but 
the snuff. Give God the best part of your 
life, that which has the sunshine. If you 
will care for God with your May and June, 
He will care for you in November. 

He came himself. He did not send it. 
If you want a thing well done do it your- 
self. Especially is this true of acts of 
benevolence. Be your own almoner. " Pure 
religion and undefiled before God the 


Father is to visit the fatherless and widow." 
Visit them does not mean that you are to 
be content with putting a shilling in the 
box at the time of the communion. Nor 
does it mean that you give the money to 
your minister to give for you. Go yourself 
up the narrow stair, lift the latch, let the 
poor have the luxury of a quarter of an 
hour of your company. Some of the poor 
are rich in faith, and we shall be glad of a 
call from them when they are in the man- 
sion which God is furnishing so splendidly 
for them. 

This farmer increased God's capital. The 
rule is, that God works by means. He does 
not usually act without the assistance of 
His creatures. Many of His plans are un- 
finished because the men are on strike ! 
Let it be said, with all reverence, this 
miracle could not have been performed if 
the man had not come from Baalshalisha 
with the corn and cakes. The prophet might 


have been fed, but not in this way. This 
opens up a wide subject. It is worth our 
while to ask, Can we increase the revenue 
of God ? Is there another half-hour we can 
spend in His service ? Can we find out any- 
other way of usefulness ? Would it not be 
better to let the Saviour have the benefit 
of the legacy duty by giving the money 
while we are yet in the world ? 

feeding the prophet, and he fed a hundred 
others ! And is not this the case now-a- 
days? When Robert Raikes began his 
Sunday-school he only thought of the poor 
ignorant children of Gloucester; he little 
thought that he would be imitated, and 
that there would be thousands of Sunday- 
schools. When Charles Wesley asked 
Bohler if he must tell of his joy in Christ, 
the answer was, "If you had a thousand 
tongues, tell At with them all." He little 


thought that the idea would be set to 
rhyme, but Wesley wrote, — 

" O for a thousand tongues to sing 
My great Redeemer's praise ! " 

and that has been sung by millions of happy 
Christians in all parts of the world. The 
fact is, God can make a much better use 
of our talents than any one else can. 
You cannot get so much interest for your 
money anywhere else. Lord Byron was a 
much greater poet than Isaac Watts, but 
they will be singing Watts' hymns when 
Byron's name is forgotten. 

Elisha would not have had the chance 
of feeding his students if the farmer had 
not brought the corn. And the good 
man was equal to his opportunities. In 
spite of the sneer of his wretched servitor, 
who was then in training for leprosy, he 
would have the cakes divided. " Give unto 
the people that they may eat." How 
like God ! He does not sell, but gives, 


and so it is with the bread of life. It is 
given to whoever will come. Are you 
hungry ? Does your soul need satisfying ? 
His mercy can do it. Accept the spiritual 
food offered to you. " They did eat" we 
read ; and it is not enough for you to hear 
of Christ ; — believe, — rest. Do with salvation 
as the hungry student did with the cakes. 
Appropriate it. Do not be afraid. There 
is plenty more. 

'•' Enough in Christ remains behind 
To fill the souls of all mankind." 

It would be difficult to say who was the 
happiest in the group, Elisha or the farmer. 
It was not Gehazi. It must have been 
very interesting to hear the good man 
describe what he had seen. Can you not 
fancy him when he reaches the farm ? The 
wife, anxious to know how the prophet had 
liked her cakes, says, " Well, my dear, and 
did you find the prophet ? " " Find him : I 


should think I did, my lass; I never had 
such a day in my life. What do you 
think ? When I got there, I saw more than 
a hundred of the young men, and fine fellows 
they are, but they did look poor. I wished 
I had taken ten times as much. But I 
need not have done. When the good 
prophet saw me, he cried out, ' Gehazi, take 
these cakes and the corn to the students.' 
He's a greedy one, is that servant man! 
He said, 'What use are these few little cakes 
to set before all these hungry men ? ' ' Do 
as I tell you,' says Elisha. ' The Lord says 
they shall eat, and shall leave.' You would 
not believe it, but all those hungry men ate, 
and yet they could not eat all my cakes ! 
Elisha said, ' Eat away ; ' they did their best, 
but they had to leave. They did eat, but, 
hungry as they were, they ' left thereof 
according to the word of the Lord.' 

> » 



"Let them make me a sanctuary, that I may 
dwell among them." — Exodus xxv. 8. 

TTOW easily God could have made the 
tabernacle Himself! Then everything 
would have been perfect,— the precious stones, 
the gold, the embroidery, how beautiful if 
He had but shown us what He could do 1 
Yes, but it would not have given Him the 
pleasure it did. "My delights were with the 
sons of men." Perhaps some of us are 
wearing a watchchain made out of hair. 
We could have bought a better one, that 
would have looked more handsome, but this 
is worth more to us than any other. It was 
made by the fingers of our child, made for our 


birthday. In some such way, God delights 
in that which His children do for Him. It 
would be easier to send out angels to do 
the preaching, but it must be an intense 
delight to our God and Saviour to see men 
toiling to find ideas which shall strike their 
hearers, and lead them to truth and salvation ; 
and especially to see a young man work- 
ing hard to master the difficulties of some 
foreign tongue, that he may tell the story 
of the cross to the heathen. It does not 
take a vivid imagination to picture God 
listening to the axe as it cuts down trees 
for the posts of the tabernacle, and that 
dull chopping would sound as musical to 
Him as the angel's song. But there is no 
charm in what is not done for God with 
a free heart. " Of every man that giveth 
willingly with his heart ye shall take my 

We should mark that God MAKES HIM- 



" Let them make me." This is true, not 
only of material wealth, but ot mans 
nature. God wants human nature, He 
seems to covet to have the affection of our 
life, and yearns to be looked up to by the 
creature He has made. Let us not cheat 
Him, for we shall rob ourselves most of all. 
There are two passages of Scripture which 
we will place together : " Who will have all 
men to be saved ; " " Ye will not corne 
unto me." What mystery in these words! 
Who can tell us all we could ask con- 
cerning them ? But one thing is plain, 
God may be thwarted by man. 

Was not the holy tent a picture of the 
Church? Built, not in Egypt, but in the 
wilderness, and built that God might dwell 
among men. Does not Paul use the same 
idea, when writing to the people of Corinth, 
" Ye are the temple of the living God, as 
God hath said, I will dwell with them. 
Wherefore come out from among them, 


and be ye separate ? " and is not the 
tent ot God a shadow of the perfect Church 
we read of at the end of the Book ? 
" Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, 
and He will dwell among them." Was not 
this in the mind of the man who wrote the 
child's hymn in which these lines occur ? — 

" I have been there and still would go, 
'Tis like a little heaven below" 

In this divine conception of the Church 
not impossible for rich men to be good men. 
It is not easy, but still it can be done. 
It is foolish to sneer at the givings of the 
rich. God has given them a place. This is 
the offering which ye shall take of them — 
"gold." None but He who reads the 
heart, knows what sacrifices many of the 
rich make in giving gold. Do you reply, 
they do not give in proportion to the poor? 
No, but the poor do not feel giving like 


the wealthy do. It is much more easy- 
out of the little to give a little, than to 
give in the same proportion out of the 
much. The writer knows a man who spent 
^"30,000 on his pictures, and who gives at 
the rate of ;£ioo per annum to the support 
of the ministry ; but he says he cannot go 
on giving at that rate. Why? It does 
not give him the pleasure the pictures do ! 
It is only for the Lord, not for himself.* 
God would not have accepted planks from 
those who had gold, and so God will not 
accept industry in His service in the place 
of wealth. However well the rich man can 
teach in the Sunday-school, it must not be 
put in the place of the material wealth he 
can put into God's hands. 

Labour has its place. — There was a 
great deal of timber required ; the wood of 
the acacia-tree was used for the frame- 
work. What a number of trees would have 
to be cut down ; perhaps many miles walked 


before one is found large enough ; then the 
axe must be plied, — these boards mean 
thousands of drops of sweat. When the 
tree was cut down, it had to be sawn into 
boards, and other shaped timbers ; then 
there was the labour of dragging them to 
the place where the tabernacle was put 
together. Here was work which the poorest 
could do. It was well when the man who 
had given gold or silver took his axe, and 
was a hewer of wood ; but you could not 
shut the poor man out, — he had his chance 
of " giving willingly with his heart " the toil 
which was his talent. Is it not so to-day ? 
In building the Church, what room for holy 
industry ! Ply thy axe and saw, my 
brother. The gold of the rich is useless 
without the toil of thy hands. The plates 
of gold were to cover the boards of acacia. 
Gold would not do of itself; it was the 
ornamental, rather than the useful. And 
what would the missionary income of the 

Churches be without the missionaries ? 
Fancy the Missionary Societies if no one 
offered for the work. If, as each man died, 
or came home, no one went out, what a 
difference it would make ! Does some 
mother read this? Has she a boy who 
sometimes talks as though he would be a 
missionary if his way were open ? Give 
him to the Lord. You may only be able 
to put a penny into the collection, but if 
you have given a man for the work, we 
shall want other signs beside £ s d to tell 
the worth of your offering. 

Woman has her rights here. — We 
read in Exodus xxxv. 24, 25 of women that 
were wise-hearted, who did spin with their 
hands, and of " women whose heart stirred 
them up in wisdom spun goats' hair." If we 
take woman's work out of the Church, what a 
great many good labourers we lose at once. 
Think of the influence of all the Christian 
mothers : who can reckon it ? Think of the 


devoted Sunday-school workers among the 
women; think of the thousands of tracts given 
by women's hands. Think of the mothers' 
meetings. Women have their work in the 
Church, and no one can take their place. 
Then let the woman do her work well. If it 
is for you to spin, do it with wisdom. Let 
not the enemy whisper that your work is 
such a feeble contribution. God did not 
expect the woman to cut down the trees ; 
there is a place, and a right place, for us all. 
A manly woman is as much out of place 
as an effeminate man. We don't like to 
see the woman shoulder the axe, no more 
than the man finger distaff and spindle. Still 
we are not independent of the woman ; we 
must have her work, or we cannot finish ours. 
Paul was every whit a man, and he never 
flinched from his duty, but he could appreciate 
the work of the other sex, and has given her 
a place of beauty in his letters, " These wo- 
men which laboured with me in the gospel." 


There is room for genius. — Not only 
gold, silver, brass, and wood, but precious 
stones are required ; the beautiful jewels worn 
by the high priest were considered as part of 
the furnishing of the tabernacle. Of course 
the onyx stones, and other jewels, took up 
but small room, but they added beauty and 
splendour to the rest. God does not create 
genius every day. We have many rhymers, 
but few poets, and small indeed is the pro- 
portion of these who write hymns. If Byron 
had written a " Christian Year," that is, if he 
had been as devout as Keble, what a different 
book it would have been ! We need the 
ruby as well as the pearl. How little does 
painting help the truth nowadays. Look at 
our railway stations. If those great spaces 
could be utilized for God as the painters in 
olden time would have used them, what 
room for large frescoes, what teaching through 
the eye ! Let the reader cast his eye on 
the hoardings, and see the advertisements, 


so pictorial and striking, and not an inch 
of them used for Jesus or teaching truth and 
righteousness. The tabernacle is inhabited 
by God, though not adorned as it deserves ; 
would it not give Him pleasure if He could 
have the kind of beauty only possible for 
genius to produce ? 

Still, we must not forget that the MEANEST 
BRING. — Cedar for Solomon's temple, Shittim 
wood for the tabernacle, for even Solomon 
could not have provided cedar where the 
holy tent was made. There are times when 
cleverness is baffled, and wealth is powerless. 
Our best is welcome, however inferior it may 
be to someone else's best. God does not reap 
where He has not sown, though the indolent 
servant made it out to be so. But see to it 
God has your best. Let us not pray in the 
stead of working. There are those who can 
shout " Thy kingdom come " easier than they 
can try to bring it about. Acacia-wood will 


not be accepted in the place of anything 
else. But if the axe and saw are your talents, 
by all means use them. If we could only 
have the buried one talent, we should have 
a wonderful increase to the Church's revenues. 
The four men who carried the paralytic could 
not heal him, but they could take off the 
tiles ; and to such workers Jesus cannot say 
nay. When He saw their eager faces looking 
through the hole they had made in the roof, 
He could not deny them the pleasure of 
seeing their friend rise and take up his bed. 
Our best and our all is of no avail 

Hebrews ix. 21, "Moreover, he sprinkled like- 
wise with blood, both the tabernacle and all the 
vessels of the ministry." Besides, the founda- 
tions of the tent were silver blocks, which 
were bought with the redemption shekels. 
Every man was redeemed, and the price was 
that on which the framework rested (Exodus 
xxx. 16. and xxxviii. 27). " This habitation 


of God " rests on the true foundation which 
is Christ Jesus. Let none of us rest upon 
our alms or deeds ; they are, though precious 
and beautiful, only safe as they rest upon the 
merits of Jesus. 

" Not the alms or works of man 
Can for his sins atone, 
But the Lamb for sinners slain 
Hath satisfied alone." 



Hebrews ix. 4. 

" /^\F which we cannot now speak particu- 
^^^ larly," said the author of this epistle. 
If he had gone into particulars, further ex- 
position would have been needless. What 
was the lesson taught by this wonderful 
article of tabernacle furniture ? Are we not 
to look upon it as a picture of Jesus ? If the 
reader does not think so, let him, like the 
Bereans, " search the scriptures, whether these 
things were so." 

Let us consider the OUTSIDE. What 
do we see ? a chest most likely about 
three feet long, by eighteen inches wide, 
and eighteen inches deep. It is a box 


made of common wood, but covered with 
fine gold ; and is not our Jesus both human 
and divine ? Both are there, and you cannot 
separate them ; just as the ark was not per- 
fect, though the right shape and size, till it 
was covered with fine gold, so Christ could 
not be Jesus without the gold of divinity. 
The Jews stumbled here ; they were ready to 
receive a human Messiah, but they would not 
have anything to do with the divine element. 
We, however, have been better taught, and 
look for One anointed to save. Still we do 
not overlook the wood, though it is covered 
with gold. It is sweet to know that Christ 
shares our nature. He passed over the cedar 
of angelic life, and took the common shittim, 
the tree of the wilderness. When we think 
of our sins, we are thankful that our Saviour 
Was divine, and therefore able to save to the 
uttermost ; but wheri we think of our future, 
we are glad that we are to spend our eternity 
with the Man Christ Jesus. He is one of 


ourselves. " It behoved Him to be made like 
unto His brethren." 

Do you notice that at each corner there is 
a ring of gold ? What are these rings for ? 
To receive the staves which are passed 
through the rings. By these gold-covered 
staves the Levites carried the ark on their 
shoulders. The holy thing was portable ; it 
went before, and led the people on their 
march. They were sure to be safe if they 
went where the ark led them. It would be a 
blessed thing if the Church of God would be 
persuaded to go only where Christ would 
have gone. They would be saved from much 
temptation ; not that God would have us 
morose and unfit for company. Jesus loved 
society ; He delighted to sit down at the table 
with His friends, and to accept hospitality; 
yet He would not have gone where some of 
His so-called followers show themselves. 

But what are these figures which stand 
at each end of the ark, — winged creatures, 


whose faces are looking with such earnestness 
at the gold on the top of the ark ? These 
are the cherubim, the representatives of the 
angelic world. They gaze with interest 
upon the mercy-seat. Is it not Jesus who 
links heaven to earth ? We sometimes 
wonder what angels are like, and how it is 
that they who never knew pain or sorrow 
should be so much interested in this world 
of transgression and tears. We read, " which 
things the angels desire to look into." How 
powerful these beings are ; one of them slew 
thousands in one night : how pure they are ; 
they have never broken the law. What an 
advantage it will be for us to mix with them, 
and to spend eternity in their company ; 
and this will be the case, for, in Him whom 
the ark pictured, " the whole family in heaven 
and earth is named." 

Upon what are the cherubim gazing so 
intently ? Follow the direction of their eyes, 
and what see you ? There is a spot of blood ! 


Blood ? Yes, blood. Blood on the pure 
gold ? Yes, this ark is the meeting-place 
between God and man, — the only place where 
the Holy God can be approached by him 
who represents sinners. The Socinian sneers 
at us for talking so much about blood. He 
is so refined that he cannot bear such things. 
Nay, he is more refined than the Almighty, 
for God commanded that whenever the high 
priest approached the mercy-seat, he should 
bring blood with him (see Lev. xvi. 14). 
Just as the cherubim gazed upon the blood 
which was sprinkled on the gold, so in heaven, 
to-day, the Saviour is the centre of attraction, 
and not as the King of glory, but as a newly- 
slain victim — " a Lamb as it had been slain." 
And if the reader ever stands with those who 
sing the song of Moses and the Lamb, he 
must come to the mercy-seat, to the ap- 
pointed place for pardon. Have you been 
there? If not, come at once. Come and 
look at the blood which is on the gold. That 


blood of the Innocent was shed for thee. 
Thou need'st not fear to meet God in the 
place He has appointed to look upon the 
sinner. Gaze upon the ark, — the wood, the 
gold, the blood, — which is the sacrifice for thy 
sins, and then thou shalt be able to sing : — 

u Thou standest in the holy place, 
As now for guilty sinners slain, 
The blood of sprinkling speaks and prays, 

All prevalent for guilty men. 
Thy blood is still my ransom found, 
And speaks salvation all around." 

We will now lift the lid of the ark and 
look INSIDE. What do we see ? " The golden 
pot." A vessel of gold filled with manna ! 
God commanded that a pot of manna should 
be placed in the ark. Some of the angels' 
food was picked up from the ground and 
preserved. There it is, not breeding worms, 
as all other manna did if kept, but fresh as 
the first day it was gathered. . Does not this 
teach that in Christ we have spiritual food ? 



Just as the manna fell all the time the chil- 
dren of Israel were in the wilderness, so Jesus 
is the bread of life to us, v all the time we 
are on this side Jordan. We shall need the 
Saviour as long as we are in this sinful world. 
There is a time coming when we shall hunger 
no more, but, till then, it is our safety 
to eat the " bread which came down from 

Have another peep inside, and what 
meets your gaze? The rod that budded 
(Numb. xvii.). Do you remember the story ? 
There had been a rebellion ; Korah, Dathan, 
and Abiram had tried to show that they 
had as much right to be priest as Aaron. 
They had been swallowed up, and the next 
day Moses told the princes to bring their 
sceptres ; each tribe was thus represented. 
Aaron's name was written on the rod of 
Levi. They were all laid before the Lord. 
The next day they were all brought out, 
and lo, Aaron's rod had received life and 


bore a crop of almonds as well as blossom ! 
It was a mass of flowers and fruit. By this 
the people were convinced that Aaron was 
chosen to be priest, and the rod was kept in 
the ark. What does this teach us ? That in 
Christ is the true, God-chosen, God-honoured, 
God-prevalent priesthood. 

We have numbers of sham priests. There 
is the priest of idolatry : his sceptre is but a 
blood-stained club. There was the Jewish 
priest, but he is a dry stick, there is no life 
there : all barrenness. There is the Romish 
priest, but this is a rotten stick ; we despair 
of seeing it bloom with anything but re- 
ligious fungus. Away with all these shams ! 
Christ is the true priest, and we feel that in 
Christ we have all we need. 

" He entered once the holiest, 
And therefore I shall enter, 
Who Jesus own, 
On Him alone 
For full salvation venture ; 


The earnest and the witness, 
And seal of sins forgiven, 

He bought for me — 

With purity, 
And all the joys of heaven." 

Look again. What see you now ? " The 
tables of the covenant" The stones upon 
which God wrote the law. Not the first 
tables : they were broken. Moses did not 
pick up the fragments and patch them to- 
gether and put them in the ark. No, it was 
the new, unbroken tables, which were put in 
the ark. And is not Christ Jesus our right- 
eousness ? Do we not glory in the fact that 
our Substitute was sinless ? We have no 
righteousness to plead, but we have a perfect 
Saviour. Our efforts at reformation are but 
a clumsy piecing of the broken tables, but 
in Christ we have a perfect law. The blood 
of the covenant is what we rejoice over. 
Innocent blood on an unbroken law ! 

It would be an interesting theme to dwell 
upon — the history of the ark. How it was 


bound up with the success of the friends of 
God. Wherever it went, it meant destruction 
to the foes of the Almighty. When Jericho 
was to be taken, the ark of the Lord was 
carried round the doomed city. Nothing 
could stand before it. Perhaps some of my 
readers may remind me of the time when the 
ark was taken by the Philistines. Yes, but 
God had no greater foes that day than the 
men who carried the ark to the battle (Sam. 
iv. 4). They would not have been in the 
battle but for the ark which took them to 
death ! The enemies of God had but scant 
cause for triumph. Dagon was cast down 
before the ark, and the plagues which came 
made the Philistines more glad to see the 
last of the ark than they had been to secure 
it. Yes, our success is here. If Jesus be 
with us, we shall win the day. If He is 
not in our place, we fail. Rams' horns, with 
the ark, do more than silver trumpets with- 
out it. 


And in the last great struggle, when we 
cross the dark, bridgeless river, we shall need 
Christ, and if He is with us, all is well. 
Jordan was on a flood the day the Israelites 
crossed to the land of promise. What was 
to be done ? The ark was brought, and as 
the priests' feet touched the swift stream the 
waters divided, and there was a passage for 
all, — old and young, the strong and the weak, 
the active youth and the lame man on his 
crutches, all passed over. Not till the last 
of the chosen ones had crossed, was the ark 
removed. And so now, our Jesus keeps the 
way. Fear not, poor pilgrim, for as thou 
passest over, louder than the roar of the 
torrent thou shalt hear a voice from the ark 

" They shall not overflow thee." 


Matthew iv. i-ii. 

QOMEWHERE or other the writer has 
seen a picture of the Iron Duke revisit- 
ing Waterloo. There sits Wellington on 
horseback, looking over the field where he 
won the most decisive of modern battles, 
and close by stands a guide, pointing out 
the most interesting parts of the field, little 
guessing to whom he is speaking, and how 
much better the listener could tell the story 
if he cared to do so. 

Do we not at times, when listening to 
preachers talking of Christ's works and words, 
wonder whether they ever think that He 


stands by, and must be ready to smile at 
the blunders made by even his greatest 
admirers ? 

The temptation of Christ is a subject to 
excite the imagination, and tempt one to talk 
when it would perhaps be wiser to wait till we 
are with Jesus, when we can do as His dis- 
ciples were wont when on earth, — ask Him 
privately. It becomes such as we are, to 
say, as we think of the wondrous struggle 
between Light and darkness, " Let the words 
of my mouth, and the meditation of my 
heart, be acceptable in Thy sight, O Lord, 
my Strength and my Redeemer." 

One cannot help thinking and wondering 
why this temptation should take place, and 
though all the reasons cannot be known, 
some of them we think we can see. We 
KNOW THERE is A DEVIL. Perhaps the 
most clever of all Satanic schemes is that in 
which he persuades men that he does not 
exist. What could suit a general better than 


to persuade the troops he is seeking to 
destroy, that he is a mere creature of the 
imagination ? — that all the stories told 
about him being seen are mere inventions, 
and that therefore there is no need to take 
any precautions ? If we receive the Gospels 
as history, we must believe in a personal devil. 
Read Matthew iv. 11 ; and if you don't 
believe in the existence of the devil, you 
mu-'Bt become a Sadducee at once. If no bad 
spirit, neither are there good ones. If there 
was no temptation, there was no ministering. 
Where shall we stop when once we change 
the narrative into fable ? Was the baptism a 
myth ? If not, we must go on with the story, 
and accept the temptation as true, and 
believe there is, in spite of what clever men, 
taught by the father of lies, say, such an one 
as is called " that old serpent the devil." 

If Christ had not been tempted, we should 
have heard the old mocking laugh of Satan, 
as when God spoke of Job, " Thou hast 


set a hedge about him." If Satan had not 
been worsted in the struggle, how cleverly 
would he have insinuated that the Saviour 
was not perfect ! " If I had been allowed 
my way, I would have proved the second 
Adam no better than the first. I would 
soon have brought him down to the same 
level as the rest of the children of men." 
Have you ever stood on the beach when a 
new lifeboat has been tried ? If so, you 
will have noticed that, not waiting till there 
is a storm abroad, and a wreck needing help, 
but some fine day, the boat is manned, and 
when out in deep water the crew capsize her, 
only to prove that she can right herself, and 
that there is no need to fear that she cannot 
live in the roughest sea. But the lifeboat 
built to save the wrecked world was tried as 
soon as launched, only to prove that the 
wildest storm could not capsize her, and that 
to be aboard was to reach the shore unhurt ! 
Satan cannot say Christ is untried. 


Then, it has been proved that A MAN CAN 
RESIST SIN in its strongest forms, for it was 
not as God that Jesus was tempted, but as 
the Son of man. It was the human nature 
that was tempted. Where would be the 
force of the reasoning in Hebrews iv. 15, if 
we are to believe that it was the divine and 
not the human which fought and won the 
battle ? " Like as we are"' It was not pos- 
sible for the divine in Jesus to learn any- 
thing, but it was possible for the human to 
do so, and so u learned He obedience by the 
things which He suffered!' It is these things 
which make us thankful to the Holy Ghost, 
who foreknew all the future of the human 
race, that He led Jesus into the wilderness 
to be tempted of the devil. 

As we read the story of the temptation, 
we cannot but be struck with the ignorance 
of Satan concerning Jesus. He did not 
understand Him. There could be no doubt 
that He was a man ; everything about Him 


was human, — He is hungry like any other 
man, and though He has fasted forty days, 
it is only what other good men have done ; 
and if he could draw Moses into speaking 
unadvisedly, meek as he was, why should he 
not entrap this one ? We know that he 
could not, but we should not have known it 
as we know it now, if Satan had not made 
the attempt. Let us not lose sight of the 
fact that the arch enemy is not omniscient. 
He learns quickly, but there are many things 
he has yet to learn. He is as ignorant as 
we are concerning the future, and fluent as 
he is in quoting Scripture, he is so blinded 
by prejudice that his eyes are holden. Be- 
sides, he, like bad men, is ready to think 
that every one is as bad as himself. Let 
us not be discouraged, then, if he treats us 
as though we were the vilest of men. How 
often have the purest-minded to stop their 
ears, and to cry out for help because tempted 
to that from which their minds start back 


with horror. The fact is, Satan cannot 
appreciate goodness, and makes as many- 
mistakes as ever. How totally ignorant of 
Jesus he must have been to say, " All these 
things will I give thee, if thou wilt fall down 
and worship me." Be not surprised then if 
you are horrified by being solicited to do that 
from which your soul recoils. " The servant 
is not above his Lord," and if Jesus was 
asked to worship the devil, we must expect 
to be humiliated, if we cannot be over- 
powered by the suggestions of the Evil One. 

How powerless temptation was when urged 
upon Jesus ! There was no sympathy be- 
tween the two. What concord hath Christ 
with Belial? Fire and water might be 
expected to agree, before Jesus and the 
devil could possibly come to terms. There 
was nothing in Jesus to respond to temp- 
tation. "Nothing in me," said the Lord, 
three years afterwards, when speaking of the 
last assault of the enemy. Why should not 


we know more of this experience ? " Christ 
in you the hope of glory " is the power that 
can turn the alien army back. And where 
is the limit of this " Christ in you " power ? 
The mistake which many of us make is 
supposing that it is necessary that we 
should be smitten down at every attack of 
the enemy. What the Church needs is more 
of " Christ in you." The self-denying power 
that makes men seek their happiness in 
wiping away tears from other faces, even at 
the cost of tears in their own eyes, is the 
kind of strength that makes human nature 

Jesus has taught us the use of the Bible 
in self-defence. The Captain of our sal- 
vation girded Himself with the Sword of 
the Spirit. He has showed us how to use 
it, and, what is remarkable, each quotation 
is from a part of Holy Writ that foes and 
false friends have alike agreed to discredit, 
The Pentateuch. Have my readers learned 


the sword exercise ? It is useless to expect to 
conquer without the heavenly brand. You 
will be mortally wounded if you are not 
able to parry the strokes of the enemy. We 
never leave our home without our sword but 
Satan knows. Dust on the Bible lids invites 
the foe to make another attack. Courage 
is not enough. Like Jesus, let us have 
skill in applying the word of God to the 
temptations of the evil one. Search out the 
meaning of God's word, and what you know, 
use. There was great vehemence in the 
words of Jesus. He was not content to 
parry the stroke ; He cut with the edge of 
His blade. And the wounds He made have 
not healed to this day ! 

The battle, though fierce, is not for ever. 
We read, "Then the devil leaveth Him." 
So it is with all the tempted followers of 
Jesus. Satan is not able to continue always. 
Sooner or later he must leave. Angels came. 
Evil first. Trial first. Sufferings first ; then 


rest and quietness. " Through fire and water 
into a wealthy place." The sweet follows 
the bitter. What was true of the Master 
shall be true of all His servants. The devil 
will do his worst, only to be beaten, and 
then, angels come. And the same ears that 
heard Apollyon say, " I swear by my infernal 
den that thou shalt go no further ; here will I 
spill thy soul," shall hear the shining ones say, 
as they go over the river, " We are minister- 
ing spirits, sent forth to minister for those 
that shall be heirs of salvation." " Now you 
must know that the city stood upon a mighty 
hill ; but the pilgrims went up that hill with 
ease, because they had these two men to lead 
them up by the arms ; also they had left 
their mortal garments behind them in the 
river, for though they went in with them, 
they came out without them. They there- 
fore went up through the regions of the air, 
sweetly talking as they went, being com- 
forted because they safely got over the river, 


and had such glorious companions to attend 
them." " The servant shall be as his Lord," 
and it shall be said of each of God's people 
as it was of Jesus, — " Then the devil leaveth 
Him, and behold, angels came and ministered 
unto Him." 

" Lost by the first, the second Man 
Jehovah did the fight regain, 
Single he foil'd our hellish foe, 
Who fled to escape the deadly blow. 
Nor could the serpent save his head 
For ever crushed — when Jesiis bled 1 " 



"And Joshua discomfited Amalek with the edge of 
the sword." — Exodus xvii. 13. 

r I S HIS is a bulletin, not a gazette. We 
are used to see the general's name 
in the hasty statement sent off immediately 
after the victory, but, when the successful 
leader pens his gazette, he particularises, 
and gives the details of the battle, which 
regiments distinguished themselves, and even 
names individuals who have won honour by 
their acts of bravery, so that we now know, 
not merely the victor's name, but the more 
humble names of those who helped him to 
win, and we learn that he "begs to recom- 
mend Private Smith for the Victoria Cross. 


Some day, our Joshua shall slay Amalek 
utterly. The last battle shall be won, and 
evil rear its ugly head no more. Then, 
when the books are opened, every good 
deed shall be read out, and secret acts of 
bravery and goodness shall be honoured. 
There are not a few, who have been unknown 
to fame, who will shine as the stars for ever 
and ever. 

We learn from Deuteronomy xxv. 18 that 
Amalek had " smote the hindmost, even all 
that were feeble." In the presence of the 
enemy there should be no stragglers. These 
are always a temptation to the foe. Let us 
never forget that when we are feeble or 
straggling we are a mark for the enemy. 
Do you think no one knows when we are 
living far from God ? Is the maid who dusts 
our bedroom the only one who looks on the 
Bible lids, and could write our names in the 
dust ? When we absent ourselves from the 
Ordinance of the Lord's Supper, is the 


minister the only one who detects our ab- 
sence ? Be sure of this : when the enemy- 
sees you leave your home without prayer, 
he sends word before you, and there are new 
temptations awaiting you in business. The 
hindmost, and the feeble, are sure to be the 
first attacked, and therefore should have 
special care. Amalek hangs about the flank ; 
so let there be a rear guard of picked soldiers 
to care for what the writer of the Epistle to 
the Hebrews calls "the feeble knees, and 
the hands which hang down." 

Joshua discomfited Amalek, not Moses 
or some other friend. There are plenty of 
enemies, without fighting our brethren. What 
sport it must be for the alien when he sees 
the soldiers of the cross wounding each other ! 
Whatever we men may think of the volumes 
of controversial divinity, the reading of them 
must have made laughter for the foe who 
hates both sides. For instance, good John 
Wesley stayed at home to write those pithy 


and drastic pamphlets against Toplady and 

Hill, while the good work of saving men from 

hell had to pause. And then Toplady must 

leave the composing of such hymns as " Rock 
of Ages," and pen a rejoinder that would 

make Wesley feel as though some one had 
cast vitriol upon him ! If we are wounded 
fighting Amalek, it will not increase our pen- 
sion, for we shall be too ashamed of the 
wounds we receive in battling with brethren 
to say anything about them. Let us keep 
our bitterness for sin, and our swords for the 
King's enemies. We are soldiers, and not 
gladiators ; so, while there is an enemy of 
Christ left, we had better spend all our 
strength and courage in battling for the 
Lord, and not in wounding each other. 

Amalek is not to be beaten without A 
FIGHT. This is no review. It is not work 
for blank cartridge. The struggle against 
sin is real, as we shall find to our cost if we 
are not wary. How Satan must laugh and 


sneer at many of the efforts made against 
him : sermons preached without point, 
Sunday-school lessons and addresses with 
no interest or teaching in them. We must 
come to close quarters. Mere common- 
place generalities are not enough. It is not 
long-pounders, but the sword, that wins the 
day. When a young Spartan complained 
to his mother that his sword was too short, 
he was told to go a step nearer the enemy, 
and it would be long enough then. 

Let us not forget to use the edge of the 
sword. Neither the flat of it nor the back 
will cut as a sword ought. There was a 
picture in one of the illustrated papers the 
other day of some Turks at the grindstone, 
getting their swords ready for the fight. 
What sort of an edge has yours ? Has it 
. an edge at all ? All other things being equal, 
God can do more with a sharp man than a 
dull one. Don't be afraid of study, or any- 
thing else that will make you more effective. 


Few things are so much to be dreaded as 
respectable dulness ! 

WORK — Joshua to fight, and himself to take 
the top of the hill. This is the way battles 
are won. The Commissariat officer serves 
his country while securing bullocks for 
rations, and sending up ammunition to the 
front. There is, perhaps, not enough thought 
of those who supply the wants of the workers. 
Have you ever noticed, at a fire, how all 
attention is given to the engine when it 
comes up, laden with men, who spring off, 
each one running to his post, some fixing 
on the hose, some getting out ladders, while 
another with the brazen pipe goes to the 
place of danger, and battles with the fire? 
There is another man at work, though, whom 
no one cares to look at. The turncock, with 
his large key, has gone down a back street, 
where there is no admiring crowd, and he 
turns on the water, without which the brave 


firemen would be of no use, and the mob 
would have nothing to cheer at. Is it not 
so with some unobtrusive men and women 
who find the funds for carrying on the work 
which others do ? Let us not undervalue 
any kind of work, whether it is done 
publicly or in secret, knowing that the 
Master will "give every man according as 
his work shall be." This battle would not 
have been fought, to say nothing of won, if 
there had not been GOOD ADVICE given and 
taken. " Moses said unto Joshua." "Joshua 
did as Moses had said." What is the use 
of experience, if it does not speak ? Why 
wait till your advice is asked ? Why has 
God kept you in the world, old man, if He 
may not have the benefit of your experience ? 
Don't wait till the chance has gone by, and 
then say, "Ah, I knew it would be so!" 
And if Moses speaks to Joshua, let not 
the young chief think that the old fogey is 
always interfering. It is not for nothing 


that God keeps the grey head here, instead 
of taking it home to be crowned. 

" CHOOSE us out men," said Moses. Don't 
take any fool. There is a standard in the 
Queen's army. Each man must pass the 
doctor. It is not everybody who can be 
even a raw recruit. Are we particular 
enough about our soldiers in the army of 
the Lord ? Do we not set men over the 
house of God who have not brains enough 
to take charge of anything else ? We should 
fight all the better if we had better officers, 
even if there were fewer of them. Oh, if 
we could but secure for the army of God 
the same amount of bravery and generalship 
there is on the wrong side ! 

Moses on the hill is AN EMBLEM OF PUBLIC 
PRAYER. On the top of the hill, where all 
the fighting men could see him. Would 
you not like to have heard the prayer 
Moses put up that day ? He was a wonder- 
ful man to pray. He who could say, " Blot 


my name out of Thy book," would be sure 
to offer a remarkable prayer when he saw 
his countrymen beloved attacked by Amalek. 
It was a prayer that remembered the past. 
He took the rod of God in his hand. What 
a history that rod had. It was the old 
shepherd's crook that Moses used in Midian. 
Before the Lord it had been changed into 
a serpent. It had beckoned to the waves 
of the Red Sea, and they had divided, and 
made a path for the Israelites to pass over, 
and again had been waved over the waters, 
and the floods returned to their place, 
drowning the enemies of God. It had 
smitten the rock in Horeb, and there had 
been water for the people to drink ; and now 
Moses takes it with him to the top of the 
hill. Do we not forget too often the things 
God has honoured in the past ? Where 
God honours, let us not show neglect, but 
continue to keep in hand that which " smote 
Rahab and wounded the dragon." 


There is a mystery about prayer that we 
cannot unravel. How it is, or why it is, that 
success in the highest sense is more or less 
dependent upon the prayers of others than 
the worker, is a puzzle ; but facts in spiritual, 
as well as natural life, are stubborn things. 
"This kind goeth not out but by prayer 
and fasting," was not spoken by some enthu- 
siastic scholar, but by the Great Master 
Himself. The fact is plain enough, though 
the why and wherefore are kept secret. We 
have here the history, if not the philosophy, 
of success, or the want of it "And it came 
to pass, when Moses held up his hand, that 
Israel prevailed, and when lie let down his 
hand Amalek prevailed'' Could we but 
have men and women mighty in prayer, 
some victories would be recorded on our 
side ere long. It is not given to all men 
to fight ; your work then must be done on 
your knees if not in the battle-field. Either 
on the hill with the rod in hand, or on the 


plain with the sword, we must do our best 
to win the day. One of the bravest of 
Christian soldiers, scarred with many a fight, 
said, " I will therefore that men pray every- 
where, lifting up holy hands." 

How much even the mightiest of men 
are dependent upon others much weaker 
than themselves ! It was well for the for- 
tunes of the day that Moses was not alone. 
Moses' hands were heavy. How dependent 
the soul is compelled to be upon the body. 
If the flesh is weak, the soul cannot strike 
a vigorous blow. The soldiers of Israel 
would watch the rod of Moses ; they would 
soon learn to foretell victory or defeat, as 
the arms went up or down. Aaron and Hur 
were wise enough to stay up the wearied 
muscles, and his hands were steady until 
the going down of the sun. So we next 
read, Joshua discomfited Amalek. 

Some of my readers are not prominent 
men, like either Moses or Joshua. But you, 


too, have your part to play. Do you stay 
up the hands of Moses, or is your influence 
bearing them down ? " The one on the one 
side, the other on the other side." It took 
two of them ; they could . not be at both 
sides at once. If you can do nothing else, 
you may bear up those who lead others in 
prayer. How the soldiers would bless those 
who were holding up the arms that seemed 
like the arms of God t Let us then, if we 
can do nothing else, see to it that all our 
influence is to bear up, and not to bear 
down, those who turn the tide of battle, and 
win the victories which make angels sing, 
Hallelujah ! 

An altar marked the place of battle, and 
glory was given to the Lord of Hosts. 
Though the aching limbs of Moses would 
for many a day tell of his efforts in turning 
the battle that day, yet he called the altar, 
"The Lord is my banner." It is a touching 
sight to see the flags of our. own country 


hanging up in St. Paul's. What a history 
they have ! What bravery has focussed 
itself round that old rag of silk, and what 
historic names are embroidered upon it ! and 
yet, when new > colours have taken their 
places, the brave hearts send their honoured 
old flag to the national temple. And shall 
not we, who are the soldiers of the cross, 
call the battle-fields where we have won 
our bravest fights by the name of Him to 
whom we ascribe all might and majesty ? 
Nay, when the last fight has been won, and 
the enemy of our race for ever defeated, we 
shall unite in singing, "Not UNTO US, 
O Lord, not unto us, but unto Thy 





Ephesians ii. 10. 
HIS chapter contains an argument 

which is a good illustration of the 
two-edged way in which the sword of the 
Spirit cuts enemies who come from different 
directions. On the one hand, Paul strikes 
at those who would teach licentiousness pos- 
sible to men who are saved by grace. We 
are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus, 
unto good works. It is true that we do not 
improve ourselves. It is all of grace, yet 
good works are binding upon us all the more. 
On the other hand, let us not take any credit 
to ourselves. If we are elevated or refined, 
it is because God has taken pains with us, 
or we should be as coarse and foul as anyone. 


Indeed, we should never have come into the 
workshop but for the heavenly artist. " No 
man can come to me, except the Father 
which hath sent me draw him." It is as 
old Mr. Honest said, when the rest of the 
pilgrims came to watch him cross the river. 
This blunt, staunch old pilgrim said, " Grace 

Without entering further into the argu- 
ment, it will be worth our while to consider 
some of the ideas suggested by the figure 
used, namely, that God works with skill 
and industry in elevating and refining human 
nature; and let us not overlook the fact 

It is useless to say that all men are equal. 
We are not all born alike. From the fault or 
misfortune of our progenitors, we may start 
on the race with heavy burdens that we 
cannot shake off. Besides, we differ in both 
physical and mental constitution. We use 


terms which are very suggestive when we 
speak of a " hard " man, or when we say, " He 
is soft," " He is coarse," or " He is a fine 
man." Some we describe as Nature's gentle- 
men, while others are born mean. Let it be 
understood that the Great Workman does 
not expect the same results from every kind 
of material. There is one thing He expects 
from all, and something He has a right to 
expect, and that is what all can do : we must 
love God. That being so, there may be many 
other things in which we differ from our fel- 
lows ; but every one who loves God will some 
day be with God. Let us then be charitable 
with each other. Why should I be hard on 
another Christian because he differs from 
me ? Perhaps he has to make a great effort 
to tolerate me. Let all the material in God's 
workshop remember that whatever comes 
there comes to be beautified. While this 
thought will help me to bear with my fellow- 
Christian, because I know that he will be 



improved before he leaves, so it will teach 
me to be modest, inasmuch as I should not 
be there if I were perfect ! 

Is it Ruskin who defines Art as that 
which "gives form to thought and beauty 
to utility " ? How well this applies to God, 
the Great Workman. He is the Almighty 
Artist. Every other artist is limited, if in 
nothing else, certainly in time ; but not so 
with Him who is at work before us. There 
is no limit to His powers of invention, or to 
the time He has at His disposal. He needs 
no candle! How He shows His art in the 
grace He gives the humblest material. It is 
easy to recognise His hand. There is won- 
drous individuality about His work. The 
other day, the writer was dining in the new 
home of an old friend, and saw before him a 
painting that seemed like Wilson's work, and 
said to the host, " Is that a Wilson ? " It 
turned out to be so. And God does not need 
to engrave His name on His work. The 


fact is, whatever God touches He ennobles. 
Just as whatever the hand of Michael Angelo 
wrought bore the mark of his genius, whether 
in clay or bronze, so with His workmanship. 
Whether it is a coarse, or soft, or hard man 
He takes in hand, the man must be the 
better for it. For instance, what different 
men Elijah and Elisha were, — the one so 
rugged, the. other so tender,— one best fitted 
to live in the mountain cave, the other feeling 
most at home in the domestic circle; yet both 
of them were fashioned by God, and bore 
the impress of His wonder-working hand. 
Elijah was the grander man, but Elisha 
would be the most beloved. Do not be dis- 
heartened because you are inferior to some- 
one else. Remember that a penny is as 
much a coin of the realm as a sovereign. 

It is well for us to have confi- 
dence IN THE Workman.— What a dif- 
ferent fate awaits some of the blocks of 
marble which come into London as com- 


pared with others. They will all be used, 
but how differently. One is taken to the 
studio of the sculptor, to be carved into 
some statue to be admired for ages ; another 
is sawn into slabs to make the counter of 
some gin palace ! If the former block could 
know and feel the difference, how glad it 
would be to find itself in the places where 
statues are made. Let those of us who are 
lovers of God never forget that we are in 
the studio. It is not the purpose of the 
Heavenly Workman to put us to any of the 
baser uses we might have been fit for but for 
His grace. "Who hath delivered us from 
the power of darkness, and hath translated 
us into the kingdom of His dear Son." God 
means to make us that which He can con- 
template with delight, and we may be sure 
that every improvement in us brings Him 
enjoyment. "He taketh pleasure in the work 
of His hands." 

This ought to reconcile us to what some- 


times seems hard treatment. We must learn 
to trust the Workman at such times. A 
statue is not finished without some violence. 
The great mallet and chisel are used, knock- 
ing off large pieces, and to anyone who did 
not know, it would seem as though the square 
block of marble was about to be destroyed. 
But not so ; the sculptor sees the thing of 
beauty in the rude block. And in like 
manner God can see in us, even when un- 
regenerate, what He designs us for. Is there 
some one reading this who is passing through 
great sorrow on account of sin ? It seems as 
though you can never be happy again. Ah, 
you are in the rough stage ; but God has not 
done with you. When He has finished, He 
will leave a smile on the face that shall never 
change to sorrow. Confidence in the Work- 
man will give us patience when He seems 
long. We are ready to sing — 

"Finish, then, Thy new creation, 
Pure and spotless let us be." 


Yes, all in good time. He has His own 
reasons for being slow. He is never in a 
hurry. He can sleep when His disciples are 
in great fear. But we are safe while He 
sleeps, and He does not need to make haste. 

We must not forget that the Work- 
man has a Plan. — Life in any of us is a 
very complicated affair. Things are always 
happening — births, deaths, and marriages. 
Business relations alter. Circumstances differ: 
there seems no order or arrangements. It is 
chaos to us. And yet God knows all, and 
knows the precise bearing of each event on 
our lives. It does not seem like it, and yet, 
if we look back, we may often see that God 
has been working all along in harmony with 
one idea. Some time ago, when in Man- 
chester, the writer saw the men at work 
pulling down whole streets of houses to 
make room for a new railway station. All 
appeared ruin and disorder. Here was a 
party digging out foundations; in another 


place the bricklayers were building walls; 
elsewhere some one was setting out for other 
walls; beyond them they were still pulling 
down. It seemed like chaos, and yet in the 
architect's office could be seen the elevation 
and picture of the complete whole. Every 
man was working to a plan. And so God has 
His elevation, but He does not show it. " It 
doth not yet appear." When Joseph was in 
jail, he was in the path of Providence, and 
the fetters of iron were as much part of the 
plan as the chain of gold he wore when 
brought to the summit of greatness. 

What a variety of tools! — What are the 
so-called means of grace but tools in the 
hand of the Great Workman ? What are 
preachers but God's chisels and hammers? 
" Is not Thy word a hammer ? " And there- 
fore we should be thankful for them, and 
when we come to the place where the Word 
is preached, we should expect to go out 
better than we came in. Nor should we be 


impatient if there is a preacher who does not 
suit us. It may not be our turn, for while 
you are saying, " I cannot get any good under 
him," some one else says, " Bless that man, 
he always does me good ! " Not but what 
some of us would be the better for sharpen- 
ing. When I see the mason's lad taking 
some scores of chisels to the forge to be 
sharpened, I wish he could take as many 
ministers to undergo the same process. For 
no preacher ought to be dull ! 

Books too are tools. How much the Great 
Workman has accomplished by the press! 
Without naming the Bible, how many times 
we have known a good book to produce some 
feature of refinement in us. Some of us have 
never been the same since we read some 
religious books. How important is the work 
of those who write them ! Especially sacred 
poetry has, in the hands of the blessed Spirit, 
been used to strengthen faith and confirm 
hope. Dr. Watts spoke the experience of 


thousands of the saints of God when he 
said, — 

" Thus, Lord, while we remember Thee, 
We blest and pious grow ; 
By hymns of praise we learn to be 
Triumphant here below." 

But the finest work is often done by those 
sharp-edged chisels called Pain and Bereave- 
ment. How many of us are to be made 
perfect by suffering ! It is not the dull tool 
that can cut the fine lines. There are some 
of us who owe whatever is beautiful in us to 
the days when our joys were stunned and 
left for dead. Even the Christ — let it be said 
reverently — would not be all to us He is and 
must ever be, if no tear had ever run down 
His cheek, and if His laughter was louder 
than His sobs ! He will always be the 
dearer to us for having had to cry, "My 
God, why hast Thou forsaken me ? " 

Will the work ever be completed f Not in 
this world certainly. There is no room for 


self-complacence. God has even in this world 
made some glorious beings out of flesh and 
blood. Moses, Elijah, Paul, are His work- 
manship, and yet none of these ever thought 
that he had climbed where there were no 
loftier heights. One thing is apparent, — we 
shall begin in heaven where we leave off in 
this world, just as the student begins at the 
University where he leaves off at school. 

Where are you going ? In the quarry you 
may see the blocks of marble waiting to be 

put on the trucks ; but before they are sent 
off they are marked with the initials of their 
destined owner. You are allowed to choose 
your eternal position. Jesus stands beside 
you ready to mark you with His cross. 
Shall He do it ? 



Genesis xxviii. 12. 

TI 7 HO can tell what his children may- 
come to ? We know not their future. 
After all our love and care, they may be 
tramps in a casual ward ! Who would have 
predicted that such a mother's lad as Jacob 
was would have to sleep with a stone for 
his pillow ? But what a number of mothers' 
pets are private soldiers, or before the 
mast ! Or, worse still, with feet soddened 
with rain, walking the streets ! Rebekah 
had herself to thank for much of her grief. 
She taught Jacob to cheat his father and 
brother. Esau said, "When father is dead. 


I will cut Jacob's throat ; " and he was very- 
likely to keep his word, so the darling of 
his mother must tramp for it. Isaac lived 
to see the wanderer return a rich man, but 
Rebekah " died without the sight." Even 
in the best-trained families there may be 
stray sheep; but it is possible to covenant 
with God, so that the wanderer may, all un- 
known to himself, be bound to the throne 
of Omnipotence. 

While Jacob slept, " behold a ladder." He 
had not thought of God when he lay down, 
but here was a way up from earth to heaven, 
and God at the top. Is it stretching a 
figure too much to say that it is a picture 
of Jesus ? Had not the Lord Himself this 
' ladder in His mind when He said to the 
first disciples, "Hereafter ye shall see heaven 
open, and the angels of God ascending and 
descending upon the Son of Man" ? 

" Jesus that ladder is, 
The incarnate Deity, 


Partaker of celestial bliss, 

And human misery ; 
Sent from His high abode 

To sleeping mortals given, 
He stands, and man unites to God, 
And earth connects with heaven." 

Jesus, the ladder, connects earth 
TO HEAVEN. — There is a way from this 
sinful world to the pure heaven. Jesus is 
the connecting link. Adam was ; but sin 
broke the chain, and the world would have 
been adrift but for Jesus. Christ is the new 
and living way. No amount of sin in the 
world can break the communication. He is 
" the way of holiness." There is no part of 
the world this ladder does not touch. Think 
of the number of climbers. Who shall count 
the children of all countries who pass by 
Christ to heaven ? All countries are repre- 
sented on the ladder. Then the angels, 
bright and fair, passing on errands of mercy 
to the elect, sent forth to minister for them 
who shall be heirs of salvation, — are they 


not helping the saints up the ladder ? As 
we look towards the top, we see some who 
are nearing the end of the journey. Already 
the glory is shining on their features. Others 
are just stepping into heaven. What a 
change for them ! And their feeling is 
ever; — We could not have been here but 
for the ladder. Do these who have gained 
the top regret what they left behind? Do 
they ever wish that they had held on to 
the world ? Oh, how small the world looks 
from the top, and the gold or the pleasures 
are but shadows now. 

Are all my readers on this ladder ? There 
is no other that can take you right. If you 
are not believing in Jesus, you are on the 
highway to ruin. You may not walk in 
the dirt, but you are in the way to hell if 
out of Christ. Why should you not start 
for glory to-day ? Begin to climb, if you 
have not done so. Take hold of Jesus, and 
you will find taking hold will lift you up the 


first few steps. "Must I not give this up, 
and that up ? " Yes, you must, but in trust- 
ing your soul to the atonement, you will find 
yourself lifted well out of the mire ! 

This ladder comes to sinners. — They 
have not to fetch it. " Say not in thine heart, 
Who shall ascend into heaven, that is, to 
bring Christ? — The word is nigh thee." 
God does not wait till we ask before He 
sends salvation. He offers it to us. The 
supplanter was surprised ; he had not ex- 
pected this sign of the favour of God. It 
was wonderful that it should come to him, 
when he had not put up a prayer. What 
is the proclamation of the Gospel but the 
coming of the ladder-foot to the sleeping 
sinner? We should not have been asto- 
nished, had Jacob made a sacrifice before 
he slept, to have seen the ladder in the 
smoke of the offering : but to come unasked, 
— ah, that is how it is ! If God had to wait 
for us to begin, He would never have one 


sinner saved. " 1 am Alpha." Just as you can- 
not spell the word salvation without the letter 
a, so you cannot have heaven without Jesus. 
He begins the work. None of us can say, 
We have not been asked to climb. God 
calls, Jesus beckons, angels whisper, saints, 
ascending, shout, Come ! You cannot be in 
the wrong place to start for heaven. There 
was a path from the swine troughs to the 
Father's house. The vilest of men may 
start, if he will but take hold of Jesus. One 
of the most foul-mouthed of men became a 
preacher for Jesus, and wrote a hymn that 
has been sung by millions of climbers : — 

" The God of Abraham praise, 
At whose supreme command 
From earth I rise and seek the joys 
At His right hand." 

God is at the top, speaking kind 

the Lord above, and heard Him say, " I am 
the Lord God of Abraham thy father." 


" Behold, I am with thee," " I will not leave 
thee." Think of this — God speaking kind 
words to the supplanter ! Yes, and it is so 
now. Christ is God's own plan. The ladder 
whose foot is on the earth came down from 
heaven. Can the Divine Being be anything 
else but delighted with Jesus ? So much so 
that sometimes when Jesus was here below, 
a voice was heard saying, "This is my be- 
loved Son." Do you see yonder life-boat 
coming back through the surf? — she is filled 
with men and women taken off the wreck. 
Among the people on the shore, the most 
excited and pleased at the sight is the 
gentleman who gave the boat to that place 
No wonder that he shouts words of encou- 
ragement, as the poor creatures tremble at 
the sight of the rollers breaking on the 

Let such of my readers as are on the 
ladder, encourage others to start. Shout 
aloud for joy. If we only believed what 


God has said about His heaven, we should 
look happy, and our faces would invite 
others to come the same way. The smiles 
of God's elect would encourage others to 
venture. Should, however, the coldness of 
the Church have daunted any one from 
making a start, let him be persuaded to 
look higher up. See the Lord in all His 
majesty, delighting in what ? Mercy ! Yes, 
listen for yourself. Do not let any one pre- 
tend to interpret for you : God speaks in 
the plainest of words — " Come unto me." 

Suffer a few words of ADVICE TO 
CLIMBERS.— To those who read this book 
that mean to reach the top, we would say, 
Be sure to get the right ladder ; there are 
plenty of shams. We need not say any- 
thing about Popery. That does not pretend 
to take men to the top : the end of their 
ladder is purgatory. When masses are said 
for the repose of dead Cardinals and Popes, 
other poor sinners must not think of heaven. 


Formalism is a sham ladder. It is rotten, 
and is sure to let men down. Besides, it is 
too short. Hear the man who is going up : 
" I fast twice in the week, I give tithes, I 
am not as other men." He is at the top ; 
he cannot get any farther. How different 
to the man who is climbing up by Jesus ! 
We can hear him sing. They are wondrous 
sweet, these ladder songs. Listen ! 

" I see stretched out to save me 
The arm of my Redeemer ; 
That arm shall quell 
The powers of hell, 
And silence the blasphemer. 

I render Thee the glory, 
I know Thou wilt deliver, 

But let me rise 

Above the skies, 
And praise Thy love for ever. 

Morality is of no use as a ladder. It got 
broken in the fall, and all the bottom rounds 
are out. You see all ten of them are gone. 
You cannot reach the bottom step ! 


Take firm hold. — You will want both 
hands. If you could see those who have 
fallen, you might learn what was the cause. 
See, one had a money-bag ; as it got heavier 
he had to take both hands to it, and down 
he came. Another has a theatre ticket ; an- 
other, a woman, has a letter, — it is an offer 
of marriage. Jesus is not to be trifled with. 

Grasp Him as a drowning man does a rope, 
and even of good works say, — 

" Nothing in my hands I bring, 
Simply to Thy cross I cling." 

Dorit look down, or you will be giddy. — 
Looking down on others will make you feel 
how well you have done to climb so far, and 
keep on so long. If Peter had not looked 
down, he might have kept from a bad fall. 
It is true he got up and started again, but, as 
you know, he went with a bad limp for many 
a long day. This is true not only of young 
Christians, but men fifty years of age are in 
much more slippery places than they think 


for. Look up : one look at God will steady 

As an old Yorkshireman once said, Don't 
come down to fetch any one else up. — Is not 
that the reason why some are much lower 
down than they were years ago ? Ask that 
young woman the cause of her trouble, and 
it is, " He promised he would go with me, 
and now, not only does he refuse to do so, 
but he tries to prevent me ! " If your friends 
will not follow you up, leave them behind, 
and join with those on the ladder who sing : 

' My old companions, fare you well 
I cannot go with you to hell ; 
I mean with Jesus Christ to dwell 
Let me go ! " 



Matthew xvii. 27. 

' I ^HE Gospels tell us, not only of the greater 
actions of Jesus, but of some things that 
are so small that few people care to meditate 
upon them; and yet, some of these smaller 
deeds are very beautiful. Glorious as was the 
miracle of the raising of Lazarus, the most 
beautiful thing in the incident is the tears 
on Christ's cheek. He raised others from the 
dead, but it was left for John to tell of his 
Master's sympathy, in the words never to be 
forgotten, " Jesus wept." The story we are 
now writing about is not one of the great 
miracles, and yet its lessons are well worth 
our careful study. 


There is what, for the want of a better 
word, we must call the modesty OF Jesus. 
Rather than offend the prejudices of the 
people, He would waive His claim. The 
men whose business it was to collect the 
Temple dues, asked Peter if his Master did 
not pay tribute ? Yes, said the man of 
ready speech, and that without consulting 
the Master. When he reached the house 
where Jesus was, he was anticipated by 
Christ asking him, "Of whom do the kings 
of the earth take tribute ? of their own 
children, or strangers ? " Of strangers, replied 
Peter. "Then are the children free." That 
is, I, being the Son of God, surely need not 
to pay towards the repairs of my Father's 
house. But rather than these who do not 
acknowledge my Divine Sonship should 
think I am careless about the Temple, I 
will pay. He would rather pay than be a 

Are not we, who call ourselves His disciples, 

too ready to put forth our titles to men's 
respect, and to stand upon our dignity ? We 
might learn from our Lord, who never arrayed 
Himself in the style He might have done. 
He put on the menial's livery, "made Him- 
self of no reputation." As soon as we gain 
a stripe, we are so eager to have it sewn on 
our uniform. We do not like to miss a 
single parade without our comrades knowing 
they must touch their caps to us. The 
Apostle Paul had to complain in his day, 
" All seek their own, not Jesus Christ's." He 
was a notable example of the contrary. For 
though he was chief apostle, when at Corinth 
he worked for his bread, and preferred 
to sit at the loom for many weary hours, 
rather than irritate those narrow-minded 
Christians who did not like paying their 
ministers. At Philippi he was tied up and 
flogged, when he could have stopped the 
proceedings by simply telling them that he 
was a Roman. Might there not be more 


peace in the Church if we were more like our 
Master — not too anxious to push our claims, 
and to come to the front ? And in family 
life, how many breaches might be prevented 
if we were willing to forego our claims, and 
give way to others; it is this being "righteous 
over much" in our demands, it is claiming 
the uttermost farthing, which causes so much 
irritation. How many lawsuits might be 
prevented if there were a little more of the 
" nevertheless.' 1 Let us not be too exacting, 
but seek the spirit of Christ, " Who, for the 
joy set before Him, endured the cross." 

We learn something of the poverty of 
JESUS. Yes, if ever there was a poor man, it 
was the Lord of life and glory. He did not 
take fees when He healed the sick, or He 
would not have been so familiar with want. 
He had not fifteen pence, when He needed 
it for church dues. Do not let us worry be- 
cause we are obliged to sit on the free seats. 
Christ could not have afforded to pay pew 


too ready to put forth our titles to men's 
respect, and to stand upon our dignity ? We 
might learn from our Lord, who never arrayed 
Himself in the style He might have done. 
He put on the menial's livery, "made Him- 
self of no reputation." As soon as we gain 
a stripe, we are so eager to have it sewn on 
our uniform. We do not like to miss a 
single parade without our comrades knowing 
they must touch their caps to us. The 
Apostle Paul had to complain in his day, 
" All seek their own, not Jesus Christ's." He 
was a notable example of the contrary. For 
though he was chief apostle, when at Corinth 
he worked for his bread, and preferred 
to sit at the loom for many weary hours, 
rather than irritate those narrow-minded 
Christians who did not like paying their 
ministers. At Philippi he was tied up and 
flogged, when he could have stopped the 
proceedings by simply telling them that he 
was a Roman. Might there not be more 


peace in the Church if we were more like our 
Master — not too anxious to push our claims, 
and to come to the front ? And in family- 
life, how many breaches might be prevented 
if we were willing to forego our claims, and 
give way to others; it is this being "righteous 
over much" in our demands, it is claiming 
the uttermost farthing, which causes so much 
irritation.. How many lawsuits might be 
prevented if there were a little more of the 
"fflevertheless." Let us not be too exacting, 
but seek the spirit of Christ, " Who, for the 
joy set before Him, endured the cross" 

We learn something of the poverty of 
JESUS. Yes, if ever there was a poor man, it 
was the Lord of life and glory. He did not 
take fees when, He healed the sick, or He 
would not have been so familiar with want. 
He had not fifteen pence, when He needed 
it for church dues. Do not let us worry be- 
cause we are obliged to sit on the free seats. 
Christ could not have afforded to pay pew 


rent. Let us not chafe ourselves with the 
thought of our poverty. There is no dis- 
grace in being short of money. We need 
not be ignoble because we are poor. We 
may win honour if we have an empty pocket, 
and the Victoria cross looks well on a private's 
jacket ! 

There is something of greater moment 
than wealth, and that is character. Money 
may not elevate, good deeds do. You may 
put a diamond ring in a swine's snout, and 
it will not cease to grunt. Let us not look 
at our banking account to see how much we 
are worth. We touch our hats to a man be- 
cause, as we say, he is worth half a million 
of money, when the real truth is, he is not 
worth the clothes he stands in. It is true, 
the bank would honour any cheque he draws, 
but in heaven they have no mansion waiting 
for him. In the conventional meaning of 
the words, Christ was not worth fifteen pence ; 
yet He could heal the sick and raise the 


dead. It will be worth our while to weigh 
ourselves in the true balances, and to find 
out Heaven's assessment of our belongings. 
On the other hand, this story gives us A 
peep into Christ's resources. Though He 
had not the money by Him, He knew where 
it was. The gold and silver are all His. He 
it was who laid the golden streaks in the 
river beds of California. He knew of this 
money in the fish's mouth. How did it get 
there ? Those of us who use the rod and 
line know a fish will swallow anything 
bright. Perhaps the coin had fallen out of 
some child's hand, crossing the ferry, or it 
may have been in the girdle of some drowned 
fisherman. What an amount of treasure 
there must be in the sea ! more under the 
blue waves than in all the banks in the 
world. It could be brought out if the Lord 
willed it, and yet His treasury is often empty. 
Some of us think what good we would do 
if we had but the gold. This is by no means 


certain. Depend upon it, with all the work 
that needs doing, and that cannot begin for 
the want of money, if God dare but trust His 
people with riches, He would put us in the 
way of getting the wealth that now lies 

This is true of everything that God 
needs. He can help Himself to what He 
wants out of Satan's lockers. Was not Saul 
of Tarsus as much out of the Church's 
reach as the piece of money many fathoms 
deep ? And yet Christ put a hook in Satan's 
nostril, and brought Saul to make many 
rich by circulating among the heathen. It 
may be that some of us may live to see the 
work of God carried on by hands now used 
to build forts for Satan to occupy. Was 
not Luther the monk as much hidden as 
the piece of money? And it may be that 
from the Romish communion we may get 
someone who shall be as effective as he was ; 
or that from the companionship of Brad- 


laugh we may have some notable defender 
of Christianity. 

We do well to learn, however, that God 
AGENCY. Christ could have done without 
Peter. It would have been easy to have 
willed it, and the fish would have swum to 
His feet as He stood by the side of the lake, 
and have dropped the coin within his reach. 
But He knew that Peter could catch the 
fish, and so he was sent to do what he was 
able. It appears to be the Divine plan to 
do what men cannot, but not to act for us. 
The farmer cannot make the seed germinate; 
he cannot make the rain to fall, or cause 
the sun to shine; but he can plough and 
sow, neither of which God ever does. The 
mariner cannot make the wind to blow, 
but he can weigh the anchor, and trim the 
sails. Creation and industry are partners. 

Is it not so in spiritual things ? We cannot 
save, ourselves. We cannot atone for sin, 


but we can believe in the atonement made 
by Jesus. ' Without grace we perish, but we 
can accept the grace which bringeth salva- 
tion. This will holds good in Church work. 
The preacher cannot save a soul by the 
most powerful appeal, but he can prepare 
that which interests the congregation. An 
indolent preacher is a useless one. So in 
the training of our children : we must work 
if God is to work with us. 

Does not God use the best means within 
His reach ? Peter was a fisherman. It 
would have been useless to send some 
other of the apostles. Levi might have 
stood there till now before he caught a fish. 
He could prepare a Church schedule, but 
fishing was not his business. Let us send 
Peter to the work he is best fitted for. 
"The round peg too often gets into the 
square hole." 

This story teaches us that HE WHO WORKS 
for Jesus is sure to get his pay. " That 


take, and give unto them for thee and 
me." Christ wanted fifteen pence, and Petei 
took out of the fish's mouth half-a-crown ! 
And thus, in obeying Christ, he paid his own 
taxes. In keeping His commandments there 
is great reward. Let us not stumble at the 
mystery. Peter might have said, Lord, I 
never did yet take a fish with money in 
its mouth : or, Lord, how is the fish to know 
that it is to come to my hook ? The lake 
has thousands of fish, and yet you say, " The 
first that cometh up." It was enough for 
Peter that Christ gave the order. He had 
learned that commandments are promises, 
and that for God to say a thing must be 
done, made it possible. 

" Faith, mighty faith, the promise sees, 
And looks to that alone ; 
Laughs at impossibilities, 
And cries it shaM be done," 

If we win anything for Jesus, He will share 
it with us. "Me and thee* -He that 


overcometh shall sit down on my throne." 
"He that reapeth receiveth wages." Are we 
then among the disciples of Jesus ? Is it 
"Me and thee ? " Are you a co-worker with 
God ? If not, there must be personal sur- 
render. We may be in arms against God, 
but if we submit He is ready to forgive. 
He will put us in the ranks of His army, and 
we may yet win spoilt for Christ and our- 
selves. "Me and thee." Christ will share 
all He has with His bride. He will endow 
her with endless beauty and glory. All He 
has shall be ours. " Me and thee " is the 
fortune of the believer. 



John v. i — 14. 

TI7HO wonders that a place which had 
such a history as that described in 
this chapter should be called mercy's house ? 
So many people had at different times there 
obtained mercy, that there is nothing re- 
markable in the title the place had won. It 
is worth while to bear in mind that it was 
close by the sheep-market. We should not 
have been surprised if we had- heard of it as 
being near unto the Temple; but, as if God 
would teach us that His mercy is to be got 
wherever sought, the house of mercy is close 
by the place where money is made ; and so, 
it is not only where the melodious organ fills 



the fretted aisles with sacred sounds that the 
sorrowing and helpless soul may meet with 
mercy, but in the haunts of busy commerce, 
or anywhere else, the heart that needs conso- 
lation may meet with Jesus. 

How came the five porches to be built ? 
Had some of those which had found health 
in the spring built these alcoves for the com- 
fort of seekers for mercy, and thus shown 
their appreciation of what they had received ? 
It would have been a fitting thing, and it is 
so yet. Let those who find grace to help in 
the means provided, see to it that, so far as 
they have the power, others have the chance 
of getting the same privileges. 

Let us linger at this pool-side, and learn 
the lessons the Author of this sacred life of 
Christ intended us to learn. And as we 
learn, let us write on the walls of these 
porches, that others coming after us may be 
all the wiser for our stopping here. In the 
first porch write up — 


It is never too late to mend.— It 
is evident the man whom Jesus saw at the 
pool-side thought so. One cannot but admit 
the tenacity with which he clung to the 
hope of recovery It was What the late 
Jabez Bunting liked to call "obstinate 
faith." % Thirty-eight years a victim to the 
disease, and; yet hoping for a cure. How 
often he had been disappointed! Just as 
the water was troubled, he made the effort, 
but had always been too late. Having no 
one to assist him, he could not drag him- 
self to the pool before someone else who had 
helpers was in, and healed. One can see 
him as heusmiles a sickly smile, and whispers, 
"Better luck next time," and goes back to 
wait the next moving of the waters. 

It is more than possible that some of my 
readers need to be encouraged to hope that 
it is not too late to be cured of the malady 
which threatens to destroy the soul. You 
may be in a sad case, but yet do not despair. 


The enemy whispers that it is too late. He 
holds you by the chains of some sinful habit ; 
but Christ can deliver you, impotent as you 
are. Perhaps you are held down by some 
sinful friendship, and may feel that it is quite 
impossible for you to get free ; but God can 
save, by so changing your life that your com- 
panions shall no longer desire your society. 
Or you may be old, grown grey in vice, yet 
it is not too late to make those grey hairs a 
crown of glory, instead of the fool's cap they 
now are. 

Whatever you do, don't lose hope of those 
of your friends who seem almost too far 
gone to be recovered. Satan could not wish 
for anything better than that your hopes 
should die, and your prayers cease. There 
are men hanging over the pit of destruction 
to-day ; the rope that holds them is parting : 
see, some of the strands are worn through. 
Education, godly training, respect for the 
sabbath, reverence for the name of God,— all 


these are gone : only a mother's prayers hold 
them from the flame. Pray on, let not 
despair cut the last thread that holds them 
this side the pit. Read what we have written 
in the first of the porches : — 

It is never too late to mend. 

And now let us visit the second porch, 
and write up another of the lessons we learn 
at the pool-side. Waiting on the Lord 
IS TRUE WISDOM. — If you don't wish to 
grow worse, keep in mercy's house. Do not 
be persuaded to give up going to the place 
of worship you have attended, though you 
know that 'tis but outward show. How 
pleased the enemy of your soul would be 
if he could but persuade you to spend the 
whole of your life away from God. As it is, 
there is at least an hour each week in which 
you are among those who praise and pray. 
You have heard the master whom you have 
served faithfully in all but this whisper, 
What is the use of going to a place of wor- 


ship when your heart is so hard ? What is 
the use of ever looking into the Bible, or 
listening to sermons ? Do not these things 
make you uncomfortable ? Why do you 
continue in them ? Ah, my friend, don't 
listen to him! It is the one thing which 
keeps hope alive. " Faith cometh by hear- 
ing." Do not close the last avenue of hope. 

It may be that some of my readers have 
been long convinced of sin, and yet never 
able to rejoice in God our Saviour. You are 
tempted to give up. "Why go where sin 
is denounced and Christ preached ? You 
are no happier. Better attend some more 
fashionable place, where the preacher deals 
in generalities, and does not give such 
home thrusts." So people might have said 
to this man, " Why keep going to the pool ? 
What better are you ? You are only made 
to feel greater disappointment. Someone 
»viU get in before you again, and you will be 
left as bad as ever." Supposing such counsels 


had prevailed, and the poor man had stayed 
at home the day Christ visited the place? 
There is no wisdom like waiting. He was a 
wise man who said, " If I die without salva- 
tion, I will die at the feet of the Saviour." 
Wait on the Lord, I say, and while waiting, 

" Jesus, take my sins away, 

And make me know Thy name ; 
Thou art now as yesterday, 
And evermore the same. 

Thou my true Bethesda be : 

I know within Thine arms is room ; 

All the world may unto Thee, 
Their house of mercy, come." 

Let us visit the third porch, and write 
up, in bright, cheerful tints, another of the 
sweet lessons learned here. Christ IS the 

called the house of mercy, but Christ was 
mercy itself. All mere human instrumen- 
talities are to Jesus what the house is to 
the Master. We" have in this story an in- 


dication of Christ's plan of saving men. 
The poor man did not ask Jesus to heal 
him. It was mercy who took the initiative, 
and said, Wilt thou be made whole ? Do 
any of my readers wish to be cured of sin ? 
If so, He asks, Do you wish for salvation ? 
not, mind you, Do you wish to escape hell ? 
That may be the beginning of repentance; 
the fear of hell has led some to seek the 
Lord, but it is not the only wish in the 
penitent heart. There are many who love 
sin as much as ever, yet would like to 
escape hell. If such were to die, and as 
the soul left the body, had to pass the 
gates, and was told to choose which gate 
you will enter — one is the door of hell and 
the other the gate of heaven — of course the 
gate of bliss would be chosen ; but that is 
not what Jesus asks us. It is, Will you 
be made holy ? Will you become like me ? 
Is not this the true reason of so many 
remaining unsaved? They do not wish to 


be good ; they hate the restriction of virtue ; 
they don't wish to have to deny self. They 
say, Give us heaven, because we fear hell, 
but don't let heaven begin below ! 

Mark that Christ gave a command as 
well as asked a question. " Take up thy 
bed and walk? This was something that 
was a physical impossibility ; yet the man 
made the effort, and was helped of God, 
and so was made whole. What does Jesus 
say to you ? Mind, not to everybody, but 
to those who are willing to be saved, — not 
to those who want heaven rather than holi- 
ness, but to those who wish to be like 
Jesus ? He says, " Believe on me." Why say 
you cannot believe ? God's commandments 
are promises. He never commands what 
He will not help us to do. "Believe that I 
am your surety, that I have answered for 
your guilt, not hoping that you might fulfil 
the law's demands ; but knowing that you 
would not, I have suffered for you ; I pro- 


mised to pay your debt, and I have paid it." 
Show that you believe this by rejoicing in 
Jesus. You cannot believe without peace 
coming to your heart. Can I illustrate this ? 
Suppose that you are a young tradesman, 
and that by some bad debts you have 
made, your money is gone, and you have 
had to overdraw your account at the bank. 
You receive a note from the manager, ask- 
ing you to call ; you do so, when he tells ' 
you that he cannot let you go on, and 
that if you don't settle before to-morrow he 
will sell you up ! You are in despair, but 
in the afternoon another note from the 
manager ; you know the handwriting, and 
fear to break the seal, just as you feel 
about reading your Bible. At last you do 
so, and read that an old friend has heard 
of your difficulties, and told the bank that 
he will be your surety, and as he is rich* 
his name stands good for you. Now, if 
you believe this, can you do anything but 


rejoice? Who would laugh at you if you 
were to leap for joy ? Just so, and if you 
will read the 53rd of Isaiah, you will see 
that "the Lord hath laid on Him the 
iniquities of us all." Believe that, and you 
cannot but be happy. 

In the next of the porches we will write 
up another of the lessons we learn here, 
namely, the newly saved may expect 
a check. 

The man who had been impotent, but 
had been healed, was met as he # was going 
down the street by those who objected 
to his carrying his bed. One would have 
thought that their delight in seeing him 
cured would have overcome their regard for 
the letter of the law. But it has ever been 
so ; no sooner do we obtain a blessing from 
God than some one or other objects to 
our joy in it. Should some one read this 
who has recently been much blessed of 
God, do not be surprised if some one tries 


to rob you of your new-found joy. And 
most likely it will be some one who ought 
to have been the last to do so. There are 
not a few, even of those who are amongst 
the friends of God, who don't see the full 
meaning of "Rejoice with them that do 
rejoice." They cannot understand the en- 
thusiasm of those who have experienced a 
great deliverance. They themselves had 
never been in the far country, and cannot 
tell why there should be such rejoicings 
over the return of him who " spent all and 
began to be in want." Do not let us be 
found amongst those who would stop the 
man who now carries that which once 
carried him ! 

And to those of my readers who have 
just been made happy in Jesus, let me say, 
Let not anyone stop you from joy in the 
Lord, it is your strength. But do not be 
surprised if you meet with those who wish 
to stop you. See, here they come ; listen to 


them for a moment. "What, you rejoicing 
in God ? Take care that you are not pre- 
suming ! Do you think that you have 
repented as you ought to have done ? 
Would it not be more seemly if one so 
wicked as you have been had wept more 
bitterly, and waited longer at the gate of 
repentance ? " Say, He who made me whole, 
said, Carry thy bed. Here is another of 
these would-be critics of Jesus. "What, re- 
joicing ? Don't you know that we live in 
a wicked world, and that you may soon 
fall?" Yes. I know all that, but He who 
forgave me has promised me strength to 
hold on to the end. And He would take 
me to heaven, to save me from hell. 

Have we not here the secret of much of 
the religious persecutions which have dis- 
graced Christianity ? The newly-liberated 
soul, fresh from the presence of the Saviour, 
daring to rejoice without the permission 
of the Church. What are the victories of 


Protestantism but the carrying of the bed, 
in spite of the Sanhedrim ? Let us listen 
to Jesus. If He says, Take up thy bed 
and walk, do as He bids you, in spite of 
priest or presbytery. 

There is yet one porch we have not 
entered. There, too, we will write up a 
sentence, in bold black capitals. It is this — 
Jesus found the man in the temple ; He 
could not have found him in a better place. 
The last words spoken by our Lord are 
very significant : " Sin no more, lest a worse 
thing come unto thee!' What, worse than 
eight-and-thirty years of such torment as I 
have had ? Yes ! What is that something 
worse ? It is not for me to dwell upon it 
now, only to say that preachers nowadays 
seem afraid to use the language Jesus used 
concerning the punishment of sin. Surely 
He knew what He was about. Let us not 
try to persuade ourselves that we are more 


tender than He was. He whose kind heart 
would not allow him to look on that impo- 
tent man without giving him relief, told 
him that if he sinned again he might suffer 
still more than he had done. Was he less 
kind in the temple than at the pool-side ? 

Beware, then, of sin! It leads to more 
than physical pain. There are those in 
hell who would gladly change places with 
those who are now on beds of agony. We 
know they were wise of whom it is said, 
" Others were tortured not accepting deliver- 
ance? They preferred the stake to hell fire, 
and the gloom of the dungeon to the dark- 
ness of the prison-house where God's felons 
are confined. 


"And departed without being desired." — 2 Chron. 
xxi. 20. 

"TROLLY is often the father of sin. It 

was so in the history we are about to 

study. Jehoshaphat was a very good man ; 

no one can read his biography and not 

admire him ; and yet he had a weakness 

which well-nigh proved fatal to himself, and 

certainly was ruin to his household, though 

there was a great deal of that which is lovely 

about the king of Judah. He was pious 

and gentle, devoted to the welfare of his 

people, taking great pains to lead them in 

the path of virtue ; but there was one glaring 

inconsistency which undid a great deal of 

the good he would otherwise have effected. 


And here let us note a lesson for parents, which 
is this — Folly in fathers may become sin 
IN THEIR SONS. The pious king showed his 
children a good example, so far as we know, 
in everything but his love for the society of 
the ungodly and worldly. He was friendly 
with Ahab. This friendship nearly cost him 
his life at the battle of Ramoth-Gilead, and 
lost him wealth by the wreck of the navy 
he had built to go with the ships of Ahaziah, 
king of Israel. The children of Jehoshaphat 
did not leave off where their father did. 
We may feel ourselves strong enough to go 
nearer to sin than some good people dare 
to do. We run a fearful risk in this way, 
and often forget that we cannot go alone, 
whether we do well or ill. Our children are 
sure to imitate us, and they may not have 
the same love for the right that we have, 
and so, like as Jehoram was not content to 
be merely on visiting terms with Ahab, but 
married his daughter, if we are not careful, 



we may take our children where they may 
choose to stop, instead of going back with 

Perhaps this is more true of folly than 
sin. It often happens that bad men have 
good children. Shocked by the crimes of 
their father, the sons will recoil from the 
sin which brings misery to their home. On 
the other hand, seeing that the conduct of 
their father does not produce much outward 
mischief, they rush on to their ruin, and the 
old man's grey hairs are brought down with 
sorrow to the grave, and the tears scald the 
withered cheek all the more because con- 
science whispers, " You showed the lads the 
way." For instance. Let a man be fond 
of his glass. Not a drunkard, " but likes a 
drop of something good," and yet does not 
neglect his business, or is ever seen to be 
what is called "the worse for liquor," yet 
the decanters are always about, and any- 
thing is an excuse for "something hot." In 


such a case, it does not need a prophet to 
see that some one or more of the lads will 
kill himself with drink one of these days. 
He will not have the power to stop himself, 
or will, by the time he has got to like the 
glass, have made himself companions of a 
very different kind to those his father has, 
— men who rather like to be " merry," and 
who have no objection to going home now 
and then decidedly drunk. We know what 
this leads to. If we are not careful in this 
matter of strong drink, vvc may have to 
mourn over the grave of our sons killed 
before their prime, and laid in a drunkard's 

Or let a father be unwise in his treatment 
of the Sabbath Day. Let him not be a 
Sabbath breaker in the ordinary sense of 
- the word, — never going a-pleasuring on the 
Lord's Day, but not hesitating, if there is a 
popular preacher to be heard, to leave his 
place at the head of his own pew, to ru*" 


after some novelty. It was too far to walk, 
and so he must ride, — there was no help for 
it. What is there to wonder at if, when the 
boys are men, they never, or but rarely, sit 
where their old father does on the Lord's 
Day? Very likely, when little boys, they 
rode in the " underground " or some tram 
on the Sunday, and they don't see that 
there is more sin in riding a mile or two 
farther, though it was not to a preaching, 
but pleasuring. It is not too much to say 
that very often we see that sermon hunters 
breed Sabbath breakers. 

Take another case. Here is a father who 
is not a liar ; you would wrong him, it may 
be, if you described him as such ; and yet 
he can sail very near the wind. He would 
not tell a bare-faced lie, but he does not 
mind very much if a customer deceives 
himself. " Why should I tell him ? he ought 
to know his business." What must this do 
for children and servants ? Is there anything 


to be wondered at if they allow him to 
deceive himself, and then go on from that 
to actual dishonesty and deceit. Let parents 
show their children how safely they can 
walk on the edge of the precipice, and some 
day they will see the child they love the 
most fall over. Jehoram walked in the way 
of the kings of Israel, like as did the house 
of Ahab, but it was his father, good king 
Jehoshaphat, that taught him the way to the 
dwelling of Ahab ! 

This brings us to another lesson, taught 
by the history of this bad man, which is — 
Jehoram. " He had the daughter of Ahab to 
wife." He had been used to go to the 
palace of the king of Israel, and soon was 
infatuated with the beauty of Jezebel's 
daughter. Most young folks look forward 
to, marrying, and having a home of their 
own, — and very properly so, too : but too 


often there is not enough consideration 

about the kind of man or woman we are 

going to marry. It is not enough that he 

is rich, or that she is beautiful : what is 

money, or good looks even ? One is round 

and rolls away, and the other is but skin 

deep. It is well to ask, " What sort of a 

family does he belong to ? " " I like to marry 

into a good stock," said one. Yes, and if we 

were as particular about men and women as 

we are about our flocks and herds, we should 

save money and tears. There is many a 

man who is very careful as to the breeding 

of his cattle and sheep, and yet will never 

enquire or care about the pedigree of the 

girl his son is to marry. She has a lot of 

money, and yet, if he thought of it, he could 

not help but see that either a fool or a 

knave might be grandson to him, and no 

wonder either. 

Don't marry into Ahab's family, whatever 
there may be of wealth or beauty. Let 


Ahab have Jezebel, and let them breed 
their own kind : why should we have them 
mixed with us ? It is not for nothing that 
Holy Writ tells us, " The sons of God saw 
the daughters of men that they were fair" 
and directly afterwards we read, "And God 
saw that the wickedness of man was great in 
the earth? These things go together now, 
and we cannot marry the houses of Jehosha- 
phat and Ahab together without bringing 
new sorrows into the world. "For lie had 
the daughter of Ahab to wife, and he wrought 
that which was evil in the eyes of the Lord? 
Sometimes, when we see a man or woman 
marrying into the house of Ahab, we can 
foresee the evil, and, in spite of bright skies, 
orange blossom, and the noise of laughter, 
we could weep in silence, for we can see 
the shadow of evil, and hear the steps of 
coming doom ! It is all in vain that the 
bells ring merry peals. To us we feel that 
it is a mockery, and we are ready to say, 


" Toll, oh, toll, ye bells ! Toll for dead hope ! 
Toll for laughter soon to die ! Toll for past 
joys never more to return ! Toll, toll, ye 
bells, for despair will be the fruit of this 
transient joy ! Wedding days are the prelude 
to the funeral of happiness when the house 
of Jehoshaphat marries into the doomed 
house of Ahab ! " 

What followed this wedding ? The pious 
king was carried to his fathers, and "Jehoram 
his son reigned in his stead." The three 
score years and ten were soon over, but 
before the. father died, he took pains, as he 
thought, to leave his property so that all 
his sons should be in comfort. He had 
considerable property, and he left each son 
both gold, and silver, and fenced cities, but 
to the firstborn he gave the" kingdom. But 
no sooner had the wicked king got strong 
in his new position than he used his power 
to make himself still richer : he greedily 
grasped at the possession of his brothers. 


From what we know of the bloodthirsty 
character of Athaliah, it is more than pro- 
bable that this was the prompting of the 
daughter of Jezebel. To get the wealth 
of his brothers he must take their lives, and 
so very soon he was the only one of Jehosha- 
phat's sons left 1 All the others had been 

And here we are taught another lesson 
HIM. At the first Jehoram had it all his 
own way ; he slew his brethren and took 
their wealth, but very soon trouble came 
from another quarter. Edom rebelled against 
Judah. They refused to pay tribute, and 
although Jehoram made war, it was all 
in vain, for though at the first he won a 
victory, yet the result of the campaign was 
against Judah. Libnah next revolted. 
Worse and worse; the warlike Philistines 
and Arabians combined against the king- 


of Judah, and, coming to his royal city, 
pillaged it, and carried away his wives and 
children, so that only one of his sons was 
left to him. If we rebel against God, we 
must not be surprised if we have to struggle 
against rebellion in those beneath us. If 
we rob God. why should we be astonished 
if banks break, or those we trust commit 
fraud ? We are only reaping what we have 
sown. If we disobey our Father which is 
in heaven, shall we complain if our children 
are unnatural ? God is not the only one 
who has to say, " / have nourished and 
brought up children, and they have rebelled 
against me" Let us resolutely continue to 
disobey God, following our own desires, and 
refusing to listen to His commands, or to 
heed His rebuke, and then we shall fit our- 
selves to be trampled under foot of those 
who used to tremble at our voice, and we 
may have to say of those beneath us what 
the King of heaven has said of us: "/ 


have stretched out my hand and no man 
regarded." Jehoram died in the bloom of 
manhood, but he lived long enough to see 
that "he that soweth iniquity shall reap vanity." 

There is yet another bitter moral in this 
tragic tale — the Word of God may be- 

Elijah had no good thing for the house 
of Ahab. There was no love lost between 
them. He was able to foresee the evil that 
would come through the unholy alliance. 
He saw that robbery and murder would be 
the fruit of the marriage, and he wrote a 
letter to the king, which seems to have 
been given to him after the translation of 
the prophet. In this writing is foretold the 
doom of the bloody king ; he was told that 
because he had slain better men than himself 
he should die a painful and loathsome death. 
And so it came to pass. How Jehoram must 
have trembled when first the internal pain 
foretold his doom ! It was useless for phy- 


sicians to prescribe,— there was no remedy for 
the plague of God. He who had so con- 
sistently rebelled against right, and God, 
found that his own body had rebelled 
against him. No longer would nerves and 
muscles obey his will ; and he died amidst 
tortures of the most dreadful character. 
And all along the writing which came from 
the man of God would stare him in the face. 
What was the use of doctors writing a pre- 
scription ? there was one already written, 
which could not fail, and so he must die. 
What shall we do in the face of this sad 
story ? Shall we not listen to the voice of 
God, as it calls us to repentance and faith 
in His Son ? Shall we not accept the offer 
of Divine mercy and forgiveness, and sue 
for pardon ere it be too late ? None of us 
need go where Jehoram has gone. God is 
never more in earnest than when He offers 
pardon to those that will forsake their sins, 
and trust in His Son ; but if we keep on 


refusing we may find in old age or pre- 
mature fatal sickness that the very promises 
scourge us more keenly than the warnings of 
Scripture. The sermon we have heard and 
despised, may knot the lash which con- 
science uses to whip the heart. 

Jehoram was but forty years of age when 
he was carried to his unwept and dis- 
honoured tomb. Let not those of us who 
are the children of the godly forget that this 
hated and miserable man was the firstborn 
of Jehoshaphat. His people made no burning 
for him, like the burning of his fathers, and, 
though he was buried in the city of David, 
it was not in the royal tomb. His history 
in the Book of God teaches us that none fall 
so low as those whom privilege has exalted, 
but who have cared for self rather than right, 
and for lust more than loyalty to God. 


" Where hast thou gleaned to-day ? n — Ruth ii. 19. 

nr^HOSE of us who have lived in the 
country will be familiar with the 
groups of women and children we have 
seen coming home laden with grain they 
have gathered by littles through the long 
day. Sometimes, as when the weather is 
constantly wet, it does not pay the poor 
to go out on this errand, but if the harvest 
has been a dry time, and the grain left in 
the fields can be picked up in the same 
condition that it fell, many of the poor will 
gather a heap of corn that will, when 
threshed and sold, buy them a great deal 
of their winter clothing. There is, however, 


a great difference nowadays. It is not 
every farmer who allows the poor a chance. 
To use Mr. Spurgeon's words, " There are 
men who would not leave the poor a 
morsel, and would if possible rake their 
fields with a small tooth comb." This is 
not as it should be. God gave His ancient 
people directions in this matter. " And 
when ye reap the harvest of your land, 
thou shalt not make clean riddance of the 
corners of thy field, when thou reapest, 
neither shalt thou gather any gleaning of 
thy harvest ; thou shalt leave them unto 
the poor and to the stranger. I am the 
Lord your God." On the other hand, the 
writer has heard a farmer complain that 
the poor are too indolent to glean, and 
that it is useless to leave them anything, 
for they would not pick it up. 

God's model farmer, Boaz, said to the 
reapers, "Let fall some of the handfuls on 
purpose for her." That looks better than a 


notice on the gate, scaring the widow and the 
orphan : " Trespassers will be prosecuted ; " 
the grain will fatten geese and partridges, 
but bairns are worth more than birds. The 
fields do not look so tidy with the grain 
left about, but it would be well for us 
who are preachers to listen to the voice 
of Boaz when He bids us " let fall some 
of the handfuls." There is a story told of 
an eminent minister that once, when 
preaching before an association of ministers 
and deacons, after a most elaborate and 
beautiful sermon, broke out into exhorta- 
tion to faith in Jesus, and the acceptance 
of salvation. This did not belong to the 
sermon, and it was evident to those who 
had listened to him that it was some- 
thing added to his preparation. One of 
his friends after the service said to him, 
"Why did you put in that bit of exhorta- 
tion at the end ; your sermon was finished ; 
why tack that on ? " " Why," said the good 


man, " I saw a poor labouring man come 
in just as I was finishing; he had not 
heard the sermon, and I could not bear for 
him not to have anything to carry away." 

There are some of my readers whose 
only chance of obtaining knowledge is 
by gleaning. Their education has been 
neglected. Their opportunities of attending 
a place of worship are few. Their time for 
reading is limited. In a word, they are not 
farmers, and can never show a stack : they 
can only gather by gleaning. To such let me 
LIES NEAR AT HAND. It IS of no use to go 
where it is not. You will not find the 
corn by the wayside, or on the moor. 
You must go to the fields : it is only on 
the cultivated land you can find it. And 
so with the knowledge that is worth 
possessing. It is not to be found every- 
where. For instance, it is not from every 
pulpit you hear the gospel : Why go where 



Christ is not preached ? Music will not feed 
the soul. A beautiful ritual will not satisfy 
the craving of the heart, nor will rhetoric stop 
the pangs of hunger. Intellectual preaching, 
as it is sometimes called, as if gospel preach- 
ing could only be done by simpletons, does 
not, of itself, bind up the broken heart. If 
your soul is to be fed, go where the bread- 
corn lies within your reach. 

It is not in all company that you may 
glean wisdom. " He that walketh with 
wise men shall be wise." To listen to 
some people's conversation is as profitable 
as eating chaff, and indeed there are not 
a few to whom to hearken is to gather 
poison. How unwise for us to stock our 
memory with what will prove ammunition 
or rations for Satan's soldiers, and yet this 
is sure to be the case if we hearken to the 
wicked. It would be well for us to bear 
in mind that we cannot be friendly with 
the ungodly without storing up some of 


the talk we hear, and that we thus store 
sorrow for the future. 

It is not every book from which we 
can glean corn. Books are wide fields : the 
gates are open, we are welcome to walk 
about. Have a care, you cannot get rid 
of what you pick up. Reading a bad book 
is to gather poison. You must eat what 
you glean in this way. What would not 
many Christian men and women give if 
they could only forget some things they 
have read ! How verses of licentious songs 
will come up, even amidst psalmody, and un- 
clean jokes will get between the lines of 
good reading. To the most of us, Where 
hast thou gleaned ? is but another way of 
saying, What hast thou got as the result 
of thy life ? 

To glean successfully WE MUST BE WILL- 
ING TO STOOP. Gleaning is stooping. A 
back that won't bend means a back that will 
ache for want of food. The woman that 


means to carry a large burden home must 
keep her head down all the day. The writer 
heard a man behind a counter say, "The 
worst folks to deal with are those who 
know all you are going to say." This is 
true enough. A schoolboy who thinks he 
knows it all is the most hopeless of pupils. 
The apprentice who will not be told never 
learns his trade. When the Israelites went 
out to gather manna, they did not find it 
hanging by clusters from the tree branches, 
but on the ground : they must stoop to eat. 
And is it not so with the bread of life ? He 
who would be fed thereof must humble 
himself. We may stand, with the Pharisee, 
and tell of our goodness, but we shall not 
go down justified. And in the pursuit of 
knowledge we must be willing to stoop. 
One reason so many of us are ignorant is, 
not that knowledge is not to be had, but 
we don't like people to see us among the 
learners. We do not care to be seen to 


stoop ! Many a man would have risen if 
he could have afforded to stoop for awhile. 
When the eminent missionary, Dr. Milne, 
first offered for mission work, he was such 
a rustic that the Committee would not be 
persuaded he could become a missionary, 
but one of the members told Dr. Philip 
that it would perhaps be worth while to 
send him out as a servant to the mission. 
Dr. Philip spoke to Milne aside on this 
proposal, and asked him if he would con- 
sent. With a smile, the future eminent 
man said, " Certainly, to be a hewer of 
wood is too great an honour for me when 
the Lord's house is building." So, by 
stooping, he rose to be the great man 
whom God honoured so much in China. 
If we would glean a heap, we must be 
content with A little at a time. The 
woman who has gathered the largest bundle 
of corn never once picked up a handful. It 
was mostly in single ears. "Here a little, 


and there a little." It is wonderful what 
may be done by never passing by a thing 
that is worth preserving. To note down, 
every day, each remarkable thing, would 
make a wonderful volume in time. To do 
this thoroughly, we must know the value 
of each grain of truth. In our own expe- 
rience it is not the sermon that has been 
effective, but some one thought on it, and 
that perhaps some very simple thing. How 
much comfort we have obtained from some 
line of a hymn ! Or perhaps some simple 
anecdote has done what the effort of the 
preacher had failed to accomplish. 

It would be well for us to pick up all 
that is worth gleaning. We have trampled 
under foot during our lives that which, if 
saved, would have done much to make a 
golden old age for ourselves. What waste 
of thought there is for want of care for the 
littles ! Much goes to the manure heap 
that might have made muscle and fibre. 


If any young folks do me the honour of 
reading this, be advised to pick up every 
good thing that comes within reach, and 
don't let the thought that it is only a 
little prevent your stooping, for stacks are 
made up of single straws, and London is 
made up of single houses, which were built 
a brick at a time. 

No one can glean well who is not ABLE 
TO PERSEVERE. Gleaning is tiring work. It 
means a back-ache. Whenever we see a 
bundle of corn on a gleaner's head, we 
know she must have stooped thousands of 
times. None but those who have done 
it know how hard it is to glean that which 
is to be of any use. The poor must not 
give up because they are tired ; and this 
holds good in many things, besides work- 
ing in the fields. We must, if we mean 
to succeed, be willing to go on long after 
we are weary. We cannot expect to have 
it all our own way. If we were as willing 


to spur ourselves to perseverance as we 
are to urge on our weary horses, we should 
accomplish much more than we do. 
Abraham Lincoln was asked if he thought 
the war would be over while he was 
President. "Can't say, sir." "But, Mr. 
Lincoln, what do you mean to do ? " " Peg 
away, sir, — keep pegging away." And 
pegging away liberated millions of bond- 
men, and wiped the foul stain of slavery 
from America's scutcheon. 

" Many strokes, tho' with a little axe, 
Hew down and fell the hardest timbered oak." 

If we would lay up riches in bags that do 
not grow old, and store in the place where 
thieves do not break through nor steal, we 
must keep at it, not stopping because some 
one else says his back aches, so he shall 
stop ; perhaps if he heard us say, " My back 
aches too, but I shall keep on," he would be 
shamed to perseverance. 


We shall glean with greater care and in- 
dustry if we remember that we must live 
for ever on the results of this life. What 
we gather in this world will make our heaven 
the brighter, or our hell the darker. If men 
did but think they gather gold for a crown, 
or iron for fetters, they would be more 
careful what they pick up. We read that 
Ruth " beat out what she had gleaned." 
All we have done will be threshed, and 
every one shall 




Luke viii. 46. 

T T has been well said, " The fashion of 
this world passeth away," for even lan- 
guage changes its meaning, and words cease 
to have the same significance they once had. 
Virtue at one time meant strength. Now 
it is used to /denote purity. Jesus meant 
that power had gone out from Him. It is 
worth while to note that virtue cannot leave 
one and pass to another without a loss to 
the giver. There can be little doubt that 
the sacred body of Jesus had to suffer for 
being the medium of healing, and that very 
costly was the honour of being the shrine 
of Divinitv. 


It is no wonder that some of the most 
effective of preachers have had worn and 
wasted bodies, as the tax for being able to 
give so much strength to others. Whenever 
you listen to a man who lifts you up, and 
from whose words you derive energy which 
enables you to battle with your difficulties, 
make sure that the preacher has to pay for 
it, in a wearied and worn body. We read 
in one place, "Jesus, therefore, being wearied 
with His journey, sat thus on the well." He 
appears to have been too fatigued to go 
into the town. His disciples were not too 
weary, but then, as they came along they 
had not to give out power and grace. Per- 
haps one reason why Jesus had to toil in 
His early life as a carpenter, was to in- 
vigorate His frame, and fit it for the three 
years of waste which lay between the bap- 
tism at Jordan and the cross of Calvary. 

Virtue is gone out of me to ONE WHO 


told that the poor woman spoken of here had 
been ill for twelve long years. During that 
time she had gone from one medical man 
to another, but without finding relief. She 
had "suffered many things of many phy- 
sicians, and was nothing bettered, but rather 
grew worse." " Had spent all her living 
upon physicians, neither could be healed of 
any." As a last resource, she came and 
tried Jesus. Is she not a picture of many 
among us, who try everything but the right 
thing, and also go anywhere rather than to 
the Saviour ? Have we not many vile im- 
postors who rival Christ, and who profess 
to give peace to the soul without reference 
to the atonement ? What quackery ! 

Have any of my readers gone to others 
rather than to the Great Physician ? Very 
likely, for men don't like the terms of Jesus. 
He charges nothing, but demands that we 
should go nowhere else. And we are so 
fond of paying. If only Jesus would let 


men bring ever so little of works, He would 
have many more patients. What doctor 
have you been to ? There are many of 
them. Let me warn you against some of 

There is Dr. Merryman. He has a very 
large practice. He is the most popular of 
all the soul doctors, and has an amazingly 
large connection among young people. If 
some one goes to him complaining of a sad 
heart, he will prescribe a change. " You must 
have some light reading. You must not 
read the Bible any more, at least, till you 
are better. That book is all very well for 
old people, and those who are going to die, 
but you, my dear sir, will live many years, 
and, I trust, happy years, that is, if you will 
but take my prescriptions." By-and-by the 
patient returns. " No better, doctor, worse if 
anything." " Ah ! you must go to the theatre, 
attend the opera, and see some comedy. 1 ' 
" I have tried that, and it did me no good." 


"Well, well, Christmas is coming, and we 
must try a little dancing. You want some 
gay society, you will soon dance away that 
gloom. And in the meantime, be very 
careful what place of worship you attend. 
Beware of those preachers who will frighten 
you by talking of God's anger against sin. 
Attend some place where there is respect- 
able society, and nice music, and a short 
sermon — that will soothe you. You will soon 
be better," etc., etc. 

There is another of these impudent quacks. 
I mean Dr. Devotee, who, like the famous 
Mr. Merryman, has a large number of pa- 
tients, but they are generally rather older; 
indeed, many of them have been under 
Merryman till they were tired out ; then 
they have gone over to the other side of 
the way to try if Devotee could help them. 
If you go into his waiting room, you will 
see some who have had disappointments, 
blighted affections, etc. When you are 


shown into his room, you notice how very 
grave he is, — none of the flippancy of the 
other, he does not approve of Merryman's 
prescriptions. " He did not understand your 
case, my dear madam. You need severe 
treatment, you must have strong medicine. 
I shall prescribe a course of fasting and 
prayer. It would have done you good to 
have gone with those who have just set off 
on a pilgrimage. You are weary of the 
frivolity of the world. If you don't get 
better soon, you shall enter a religious order, 
become a nun, and spend the remainder of 
your life in the retreat of innocence and 
sanctity, and behind the high wall be shel- 
tered from evil." 

There is yet another of these medical 
gentlemen you must look in upon. This 
is where Dr. APATHY lives. He is the 
favourite doctor among men of business and 
commerce. They will tell you, "Merryman 
is all very well for the youngsters, and 


Devotee suits the women, but for a sensible 
practical man, commend me to Apathy. 
Bless you, what I suffered before I went to 
him ! I could not sleep at nights for think- 
ing I might lose my soul. Really business 
began to suffer ; so I went to him, and he 
soon put me to rights. When I told him 
my symptoms, he said, 'I understand you, 
my dear fellow, you need a sedative. Stick 
to your newspaper, and give up all that 
nonsense about family prayer. Have a 
game of whist in the evening, and an extra 
glass of grog. Try to sleep as much as you 
can during the sermon, and if you cannot 
manage that, try to arrange your next day's 
business, so that after that you can dine and 
sleep away Sunday.' And what has been 
the result ? Why, I have never any of those 
queer feelings about death and the judgment 
day. I am all right." 

Do you know, dear reader, any of these 
men? You will not get a cure with them; 


they will deceive you, take your money, and 
then desert you at the last. If you have 
been vainly trying to get a cure at the 
wrong place, come to Jesus, and He will 
save you. 

" None but Jesus 
Can do wretched sinners good." 

Virtue has gone out of me to ONE WHO 

This poor woman must have found it very 
difficult to come to Christ, for at least two 
reasons. She was ceremoniously unclean. 
What ! go to Jesus, the great Prophet, when 
I am not fit to touch any one ? Yes, I will 
go to Him, and try His skill, and see if He 
will reject me ? Does the thought of your 
sins scare you from Jesus ? The more unfit 
for heaven, the greater the reason for coming 
to Christ. The worse you are, the more 
welcome to Jesus. Don't lose time trying 
to cure yourself, or to mitigate the symptoms. 
Come away to Jesus at once. If you were 



seized with cholera, and knew of some doctor 
who had never lost a cholera patient, you 
would not wait till the symptoms were a 
little less violent. How well known, but 
never worn out, are the lines of the hymn, — 

"If you tarry till you're better 
You will never come at all." 

Don't lose any more time ; you have lost 
enough already, as this poor woman seems 
to have done. She had delayed until it was 
almost too late. She came behind Him. If 
she had waited much longer she would have 
died as she was. Come behind. " Better 
late than never." 

There was the difficulty of the crowd. 
The people thronged Him; and no wonder, 
for He was on His way to heal the ruler's 
daughter. The crowd was between her and 
the Lord. Aye, and it is so yet. Very often 
we find the friends and admirers of Christ 
keeping away some who seek His face. Let 
none of us make that blunder. Do not stand 


between the sinner and the Saviour. Is not 
this the sin of priestcraft ? Do not many, 
well-meaning men, it may be, hide Christ by 
their ceremonies ? Is not this the sin of a 
narrow theology? — those who are delighted 
to speak of the "little flock." Have not 
some preachers sinned against the penitent, 
if not against Christ, by giving eloquence 
instead of gospel ? 

But the woman persevered. She could not 
get at Jesus to tell Him all she could have 
said ; but she touched Him, and so we find 
Him saying, " Virtue is gone out of me." 
Does the soul sincerely seeking Jesus ever 
fail ? It is our hope for those devout ones 
who sit under a Christless ministry, and who 
cannot come near, yet touch as it were the 
hem of the garment. It is yet true that as 
many as touched were made whole of what- 
ever disease they had. 

Virtue has gone out of me to ONE WHO 


As the poor woman thought of the crowd, 
she felt she had not the strength to force 
her way ; but she said, " If I may but touch." 
This was not the first time a touch had been 
mighty. She had heard of it, and believed, 
and argued, " Why should He not heal me 
as well as they ? " Is there, among the 
readers of this book, one who is in distress 
about his soul ? say, Why should I not be 
saved ? God does not show partiality. He 
forgives all who rest on the atonement. Put 
down this book, dear reader, and kneel down, 
and look away to Jesus. Exercise faith in 
Jesus just this moment. I should like some 
soul to be made happy in Jesus while reading 
this. Why should you not be saved ? Did 
not Jesus 'suffer in your stead? Have not 
your sins been punished ? Then rest upon 
the fact that Christ is your Substitute, and 
rejoice in Him who died to redeem you. 
Don't talk of setting aside a future time for 
fasting and prayer. Come to Jesus, just now. 


Do not wait till you have altered this, or 
improved that, all that can be done after- 
wards. If this poor woman had a part 
of a bottle of medicine left in the house, 
she did not say, I will go home and 
finish the bottle, and then come to Jesus. 
She did better ; she said, " If I may but 
touch His clothes, I shall be made 

Virtue is gone out of me to one WHO 

Jesus did not allow the woman to keep 
her secret. Doubtless, as soon as she found 
the cure, her heart would be filled with love 
to Him who had made her whole ; but, poor 
timid thing, she would fain have gone home, 
and told nobody in the crowd. Who touched 
me ? Master, why do you ask ? many an one 
in the crowd is touching Thee. Who does 
not touch Thee ? so said the disciples. 
"Virtue is gone out of me." He looked 
about, and caught the woman's eye, who now 


had strength to press through the multitude 
and fall down close to His feet, and tell Him 
all the truth. 

Timid disciple, have you derived benefit 
from Jesus, and yet have not owned to it ? 
Secret lover of Jesus, take up the cross, tell 
the story of thy deliverance. It will be all 
the better for thee. If Jesus had allowed 
the woman to have returned home, she would 
have been the loser. She might have doubted 
if the cure was permanent ; but now that she 
has heard Him say, " Daughter, be of good 
comfort, thy faith hath made thee whole," 
she can rejoice in the knowledge of a com- 
plete deliverance. And if you want assur- 
ance, confess what you feel of the grace of 
God. Let the world hear you tell the truth, 
and you shall hear Him say, " Be of good 

One other word before you shut the book. 
Be not satisfied to be among the crowd that 
press round Jesus and touch Him, without 


being any the better for it. God forbid that 
you should be in the crowd, and yet that con- 
cerning you He should not say, — 

"Virtue is gone out of me!" 


" Once was I stoned.'"— Acts xiv. ; 2 Cor. xi. 25. 

r I ''HAT is no ordinary heap of stones. 
See, there is blood on the sharp- 
edged ones, and skin, and hair! And no 
common blood. It is the blood of one 
of earth's best sons. Whose blood is it ? 
The blood of Paul, Christ's missionary. We 
saw another heap twelve years ago, on 
which was the blood of Stephen. Only a 
dozen years between the man who held 
the clothes of Stephen's murderers, and 
the martyr Paul, for he was a martyr then 
in intention, and for anything we know 
he literally died for the truth. For he 
tells us, "Whether in the body or out of 


the body I cannot tell." Persecutors may- 
become helpers, and he who, wolf like, 
made havoc among the flock of Christ, 
may lay down his life for the sheep. This 
book may fall into the hands of some foe 
of Jesus and the gospel. You, my friend, 
may yet become one of the advocates of 
the truth you hate so much. Yes, the 
pirate may yet carry lawful cargo. Do 
you wish it were so? Then haul down 
your ensign and run up the colours of 
God the King, the white flag and red cross. 
Cease to do evil, learn to do well. Cast 
yourself on the mercy of God, and instead 
of execution for rebellion and piracy, you 
shall be the commander of your own vessel, 
and be used to run emigrants over to the 
land of holiness and beauty, where He 
waits to house them for ever. 

" Sermons in stones." Yes, there are many 
homilies in such a blood-stained stone-heap 
as this, in every pebble and boulder. As we 

turn them over, they say, However good 

HIM. Being godly does not insure infallibi- 
lity. Paul made several mistakes in his life, 
and there seems to have been one here. It 
is not very easy to account for the sudden 
revulsion of feeling ; the people at first 
thought they were the gods come down in 
the likeness of men. Afterward, Paul was 
stoned by the same people. Some light is 
incidentally here thrown on the personal 
appearance of these heroic men. Barnabas 
was called Jupiter, so we conclude he was 
a massive, fine-looking man, while Paul was 
Mercury, whom we know from the ancient 
statues of that god was always represented 
as a small-limbed, slightly-built' man. 
While we may not be able altogether to 
account for the sudden change in the feel- 
ings of the people towards these two men, 
we may see that there need have been no 
mistaking them for gods. Paul did not use 


the common formula when he healed the 
cripple. It was not "In the name of Jesus 
of Nazareth, rise up and walk," but, " Stand 
upright on thy feet ! " We quite think that 
Paul meant no harm, but it was misleading 
to the poor ignorant heathen, and he had 
to smart for it. How much better if the 
bystanders had been led to ask, Who is 
the god they invoked ? Who is this Jesus 
of Nazareth ? It is a new name to us : 
who is it ? Let not your good be evil 
spoken of. Avoid the appearance of evil. 
Oh, if we could be spared the mistakes of 
good men ! Because punishment and suffer- 
ing come to the good if they blunder. Here 
is a man who is anxious to give money, and 
so sees what he thinks is a good thing, and 
recklessly ventures more than he can afford, 
and so you have " another of these Chris- 
tians sold up ! " The father of a family, 
so much engaged in church work that he 
cannot be ever at home, and so the boys 


run wild. "What plagues they are! I do 
believe good men's children are the worst 
of all," the neighbours say. Zeal runs away 
with another, and without thinking of health, 
he is worn out. If men forget they are 
human, the kind of work they do won't 
prevent their wearing out, and so there is a 
gap in the ranks before the time. Perhaps, 
if the truth was told, many a one has been 
martyred because he could not be quiet, 
and it may be some of my readers are 
suffering, not for conscience' sake, but for 
the want of common sense ! 

But do not these stones teach us THE 
Stone the man who healed the cripple ! 
That is the way we always do. We do 
not deny that the cripple has been healed, 
but stone him. What business has he to 
do anything new ? Does not the world 
often starve its geniuses ? Who expects 
wealth for an inventor ? You must be con- 


tent to be the ladder up which other people 
rise in the world, if you have seen further 
than anyone else, and are bringing out 
something fresh. The history of poets and 
painters tells us of hunger and nakedness. 
Some of the books that live were written 
in naked garrets, and others in prison cells. 
Livingstone has done more to make Eng- 
land famous than most men, and yet he 
was more than poor, and the expedition 
that found him was sent out by America. 
It was the star and stripes that mingled 
with the Union Jack at Ugiji. Do not com- 
plain, my friend, if the world hate you. Don't 
expect gratitude if you are doing good. 
You will be better off than God if you get 
thanks for kindness. Why should we be sur- 
prised ? Look at the cross. Who hangs 
between the malefactors? What crime has 
He done? What are the people crucifying 
Him for ? Feeding the hungry ? Opening 
the eyes of the blind ? Making lame men 


independent of crutches ? Raising the dead ? 
What, has He done all this ? Has He always 
spoken kindly to the erring, and helped 
many to be good, — then crucify Him ? Away 
with Him ; He is not fit to live ! The ser- 
vant is not above his Lord. If the Master 
went this way, why should not the servant ? 
Bishop Hall once said, " Let who will hope 
to walk on roses and violets to the glory of 
heaven ; O Saviour, let me trace Thee by 
the track of Thy blood ; and by Thy red 
steps follow Thee to Thine eternal rest and 
happiness ! " 

There are many texts in this stone-heap. 
NORANCE. "Certain Jews persuaded the 
people." You have the history of perse- 
cution epitomized in that nineteenth verse. 
Bigotry makes a tool of ignorance. The 
priests have pulled the strings before to-day, 
and are trying to get hold of them now. 
Let us beware of ignorance. Education 


has always been the foe of priestcraft. But 
let us not content ourselves with our chil- 
dren learning everything but the Word of 
God. It is no good sign that doctrinal 
preaching is on the decrease, that, in fact, 
the people do not like to be instructed, 
which means they are making themselves 
fit tools for the priest. Popery has no 
chance so long as the Bible is understood 
by the people ; but let us cease to learn the 
truth, and no longer be able "to give an 
answer to every man that asketh you a 
reason of the hope that is in you," and wc 
shall become puppets for priestcraft. 

If you are not ignorant, and so cannot 
become brutal, do not be a bigot. Do not 
fear new ideas. It is true they did not 
occur to you, but let another man explore 
the realms of thought, if you do not care 
to leave your quiet home. There will be 
quite enough to throw stones at the man 
with a new idea without your throwing one. 


If a man loves God, he has been promised 
" a crown of life," and you will not like, 
should you see him crowned, to think of the 
time when you threw a stone at his head ! 
Religion will not save you from bigotry; 
there are no bigots like religious ones. 
What hard names are used by very religious 
men when they speak of some whom they 
think not so liberal as themselves, all because 
they say God will punish sin eternally. Let 
us learn to tolerate the man who loves God, 
seeing that we shall have to live with him for 
ever. Whatever liberty we claim for our- 
selves, give another man the same, and let 
not London see what Lystra saw, — men who 
worship Jehovah stir up others to injure a 
man who prays to the same God as them- 

But all the stones are not bloody. Does 
ITS RESULTS ? " Once was I stoned." Paul 
lived twenty years after this, but never was 


stoned again. The enemy had tried to do 
it before, but was not able. "Once was / 
stoned," not Barnabas. God did not put 
him to the trial. Not the other disciples, 
only Paul. I was stoned, not killed ; at 
least, though left for dead, I rose up and 
came into the city. It may be that dark 
days are coming for the Church of God 
It may be that many may have to suffer, 
but the foes of God cannot slay Him. They 
may beat out our brains, but they cannot 
kill the truth. 

Paul did not give up the work to which 
he was called because he had to suffer. No, 
brave little .man, we see him just as the 
disciples stood around him, weeping over 
his poor body, and preparing to bury it; 
he opens his eyes, and, though weak and 
sore, stands up and comes into Lystra 
again, and " preached the gospel to that 
city." Here was good for evil. Mark how 
the Christian hero makes his very sufferings 



useful, telling the Church at Lystra, and 
every scar illustrated the truth that " we 
must through much tribulation enter into 
the kingdom of God." This was not the 
last time he visited the place ; once more 
he went, and found fruit remaining, and be- 
came acquainted with his son in the gospel, 
Timothy. How true it is that the blood of 
the martyr is the seed of the church. Such 
men as the friend and comforter of Paul, as 
Timothy was, are cheap at such a price. 
Let us trust our God, even when we are 
hurt in doing good ; out of our wounds there 
may flow that which shall heal many. 'Tis 
still true what Herbert sang, — » 

" Tempests are calm to Thee, they know Thy hand, 
And hold it fast, as children do their father's, 
Which cry and follow." 



" And Hezekiah received the letter of the hand of the 
messengers, and read it : and Hezekiah went tip 
into the house of the Lo?~d, and spread it before the 
Lord." — 2 Kings xix. 14. 

T T OW easy to say, " the letter ; " and yet, 
how much the words may mean! The 
postman, as he goes his rounds, would be- 
come the most melancholy of men if he 
thought much upon the budget he carries. 
To some houses joy, to others misery, — nay, 
to the same house joy treads on the heels 
of sorrow, or vice versa. We don't know 
what to-morrow may bring us ; the post- 
man's knock may be the knell of doom or 
the signal for peals of joyous laughter. 
What a letter was that which Hezekiah 


received ! In form it would be very different 
to our ideas of a letter. The Assyrians did 
not use paper, or even skins, but did their 
writing on clay. You may see, in the British 
Museum, a conveyance of land, written, not 
on parchment, but on clay, and then baked 
hard. So it is very likely that the letter 
was a tablet of terra cotta. It has been 
thought by some that Rabshakeh was the 
writer of these railing letters. This renegade 
Jew, like most apostates, gloried in his 
shame. He was a master of coarse invec- 
tive, and could say things never to be for- 
gotten. For instance, when he sneered at 
Hezekiah for depending upon Egypt, and 
compared that nation to one of the papyrus 
reeds which grow on the banks of the Nile, 
— to lean upon it was to break it, and 
it have pierce the hand. In the letter, he 
told the king of Israel that he would share 
the fate of the other nations whom Sen- 
nacherib had destroyed, and told him to 


note that the gods of those nations had not 
delivered them ; and even goes to the length 
of suggesting that Jehovah was cheating the 
pious king, when encouraging him to believe 
that He was greater than Assyria. The 
letter winds up by asking Hezekiah to think 
what had become of other crowned heads, 
and suggesting that soon he would join the 
company of those who had been degraded 
by Assyria. 

This was trouble, but it was trouble that 
might have been prevented. Hezekiah ought 
never to have paid tribute to Sennacherib. 
When first the demand was made, he should 
have called on the name of the Lord. In 
2 Kings xviii. we read that Hezekiah prayed 
to be delivered : but he prayed to the king 
of Assyria. To stave off the threatened 
destruction, he had to cut off the gold from 
the doors of the temple. It was all lost. 
The greedy monarch was not to be thus 
satisfied ; he meant having all the wealth that 

Solomon had accumulated. Let us learn to 
never submit to the claims of sin. We can 
never satisfy it. Much will have more. Sin, 
like Sennacherib, will take all you will give, 
and then come for more, and when it has got 
all it will come for you. The devil has no 
right to a penny of our money, or a moment 
of our time. If we could have in the trea- 
sury of the Lord the tribute good people are 
paying to Satan, we should be able to carry 
on much of the Lord's work that languishes 
for funds. Young men and women, let me 
say to you, Never give way to the claims of 
sin. If you submit once, you will have to 
submit again, until hell will talk of "vested 
interests" in your time and money! 

What did Hezekiah do with the 
LETTER ? He did not send a hasty answer. 
Many a quarrel might have been prevented if 
men would spread disagreeable letters before 
the Lord. Many a family feud would never 
have been brought about but for the want 


of this. If you get letters that give you 
pain, before you pen a reply send a message 
to God, and He will teach you to indite 
what may turn away wrath. 

He did not send to Egypt ; he was cured 
of that now. If some one who reads this is 
in trouble, let me counsel you to remember 
what is a command as well as a promise, 
" Call upon me in the day of trouble." Far 
too many of us treat God as though He had 
no existence. We try everybody else before 
going to the Lord. We can quack with our 
small ailments, but when we feel in danger 
we call in the men of skill, forgetting that 
the cold may be the prelude to a fever, and 
that little trials are sometimes opening the 
way for larger ones. Hezekiah did now 
what he ought to have done at the first. 
What a great deal of trouble he might have 
saved himself if, at the first appearance of 
the Assyrian army, he had gone to the house 
of the Lord to pray : then he would have 


been saved the necessity of going there to 
cut off the gold from the doors. The right 
thing is always best, and in the long run 
the cheapest. 

" Went up into the house of the Lord." 
Where was he so likely to find God as in 
His house ? The writer knew a pious and 
intelligent widow who had a great deal of 
trial, and who assured him that she was 
never in perplexity but she was sure to be 
guided to the right conclusion as she sat in 
chapel. Something either in the sermon, or 
lesson, or prayer, or hymn would tell her what 
to do. 

" In every new distress 
Will to His house repair ; 

Will think upon His wondrous grace, 
And seek deliverance there." 

Hezekiah did not hear God reproach him 
for going elsewhere first. There is much 
force in the promise, " If any of you lack 
wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to 


all men liberally and upbraideth not" Per- 
haps you have tried everybody else, and are 
almost ashamed to go to God now. Do not 
fear but He will treat you as kindly as He 
did Hezelqah. 

Have you noticed the prayer of the king, 
how he speaks of God as dwelling between 
the cherubim ? Maybe he had heard how 
Sennacherib sat on his throne between 
winged bulls and lions ; but he had heard 
Isaiah tell of seeing the Lord surrounded by 
winged intelligences. The great stone images 
which stood on either side of the throne 
of Assyria were enough to terrify those who 
stood before the king: but they could not 
move. God had only to speak to His 
winged messenger, and the angel was gone 
to crush the foes of Jehovah and His 

It is a model prayer ; not like many, which 
must try the patience of God, going all 
round the world, instead of fastening upon 


the thing needed, and asking for that. If 
our prayers were more like telegrams we 
should have speedier answers. One of the 
best prayers the writer ever heard of was 
put up by a man who had been awakened 
at some special service ; it was in these 
words : " Lord, save me from the public 
house, for it has been my ruin ! " The 
prayer of the pious king appealed to God 
for the sake of His honour — " that all the 
kingdoms of the earth may know that Thou 
art the Lord God." How the Almighty is 
touched by an appeal of this sort. If we 
thought more of God's honour in our prayers, 
we should be more often answered. It is 
said of Sammy Hick that on one occasion 
he had been led to pray in the congregation 
for rain, and after he left the chapel, and had 
reached the house, he seemed very uneasy, 
and kept going to the door and looking 
out. Some one asked him what was the 
matter ? " Didn't thou hear me pray for 


rain ? What will these infidels say if they 
know that I prayed for it and God didn't 
send it ? " Such jealousy for God was not 
and cannot ever be in vain. 

Was the letter ever answered ? Yes, 
for Jehovah answered it Himself. He did 
not trouble Hezekiah to do it ; and the 
answer is worthy of the Lord. How he re- 
proves the pride and annoyance of the king 
of Assyria — "Whom hast thou reproached 
and blasphemed ? " In Isaiah x. we find 
other allusions to the threat of Sermacherib ; 
the prophet spoke the feeling of God, and 
encouraged the fainting hearts of the people 
of God. But the answer never was sent to 
the Assyrian. God did not condescend to 
reply to him personally. He may have 
thought that His message had so dismayed 
Hezekiah that in a very short time there 
would be an ambassage desiring peace, and 
offering abject submission. We know what 
the result was, and how suddenly the bolt 


of vengeance struck down the proud blas- 
phemer. Is it not the same to-day ? Are 
not many of those who lift themselves up 
against the Lord doomed in the same way ? 
God does not condescend to send an answer 
to their proud boastings, but He has replied, 
and could they but know what He has 
spoken, they would be in abject terror. 

While nothing appears to have been said 
to the foe, the friends of Jehovah were 
much comforted by the reply to the letter. 
Jerusalem is represented as a Jewish maiden, 
laughing Assyria to scorn. Yes, when God 
laughs we may. It would help us more if 
we cultivated sacred mirth. Why should 
the enemy be the only one to smile ? " He 
laughs best who laughs last," says the old 
proverb, but he who knows that he will 
laugh last, should laugh all the way through. 
God will win the day; then let none of us 
who are on His side whine and cry, but 
rejoice in the Lord, and in merriment sing 


psalms. The twenty-eighth verse in this chap- 
ter used to be a puzzle to students of the 
Bible, but since the marbles have been dug 
up, we learn from them that it was the 
custom of the wicked kings of Assyria to 
do to men after this cruel fashion. One of 
the sculptures which portray the history of 
Assyria shows three poor captives brought 
into the presence of the king with a cord 
through their lips and nose ! So, " I will 
put my hook in thy nose, and my bridle in 
thy lips, and turn thee back." Are any of 
my readers sorely tempted of the evil one? 
Does he threaten to swallow you up? Laugh 
at him, and tell him that Jehovah can turn 
him back as easily as He did Sennacherib. 

(see verse 35). — " It came to pass that night — 
they were all dead corpses " ! Fancy if you 
saw in the newspaper to-morrow, " Sudden 
death of 185,000 soldiers!" What a stir it 
would make ! What a sight the camp must 


have been next morning. There has been 
much discussion as to how it happened. 
There is no mention of it in the Assyrian 
record. They were ready enough to boast, 
but when Sennacherib crept back to his 
palace, he did not instruct the historian to 
chronicle his disgrace. Herodotus tells us 
that the Egyptians, against whom Sennacherib 
was then at war, ascribed the destruction of 
their foes to the power of their gods. There 
has been considerable discussion amongst the 
learned as to the cause of the destruction of 
so large an army, and it is generally under- 
stood now to have been the simoon. Cambyses ; 
king of the Medes, lost 50,000 men by one of 
these dreadful winds. But whether the wind 
was the messenger, or whether an angel had 
the wind in his power, it matters not ; we read 
of " stormy wind fulfilling His word." God 
willed it, and nature hasted to do His 

Sennacherib does not appear to have been 


with the main army, and so escaped for the 
time ; but vengeance followed him home. Let 
us pause and contrast the two kings mentioned 
in this story, and we shall see the difference 
between the friends and foes of God. Look 
at Hezekiah. Though he made mistakes, he 
was a sincere, good man ; he meant right, 
and so in the day of distress could seek the 
Lord. Look at him in the house of God. 
He is in great trouble; He bows before the 
Lord. See, some one is coming! it is the 
prophet. What is the message ? Will God 
reproach me for not coming before ? Will 
He refuse now to help us ? Listen, thus 
saith the Lord. "That which thou hast 
prayed to me against Sennacherib king of 
Assyria I have heard." Now look at the 
enemy of God when he was in trouble. He, 
too, is in trouble, he has not prospered, and 
so will seek the help of his god. Tradition 
says that he intended to offer up two of his 
sons as human sacrifices. He is in the house 


of his god, seeking aid, when a step is 
heard : how quietly the men walk ; there 
are two of them ; they steal behind the 
worshipping monarch, they pierce him with 
their knives ; and, as he looks upon them 
with his dying gaze, he sees that those he 
intended to offer to his god have been his 
death! "The light of the righteous rejoiceth, 
but the lamp of the wicked shall be put 



" With the king for his work.'''' — i Chron. iv. 23. 

\ \ J HAT a chapter this is for hard names ! 
A preacher looking for a text here 
would feel like a lad seeking blackberries 
in a thorn hedge ; nearly every verse bristles 
with words difficult to pronounce ; yet here 
and there we have a sweet verse or two, with 
some beautiful lesson for the people of God. 
JLet not our young readers hesitate about 
searching these dry chapters which seem but 
a register of names, for now and then they 
will come upon some lovely jewel imbedded 
in the shale of genealogy that will well pay 
them for their toil. 

For instance, in the ninth and tenth verses, 
we have the story of Jabez, or, to put his 



name into English, Sorrowful. It was a 
strange name, but his mother was determined 
to perpetuate the memory of some grief she 
had when the lad was born, — something that 
touched more nearly than the joy of her 
son's birth. It may be that there was war 
at the time, and that her husband was killed, 
or the house burned, so the child was to be 
the remembrancer of evil days. But of all 
her children, none gave her so much pleasure, 
and we can fancy how the neighbours would 
praise Sorrowful when he began to walk, and 
talk of his sweet smile. Ah, there is none 
like Sorrowful ! By-and-bye he came to 
manhood, and then, when farmers had to 
fight amidst their grain, and drive back the 
foe from the harvest-field, none were so 
brave as the child of woe, and we can fancy 
the women saying to his mother, " Sorrowful 
has done the best of all." Would not his 
mother wish she had given him some other 
name? And shall it not be so with our 


sorrows ? As they work out some exceed- 
ing weight of glory, shall we not sing the 
sweetest about the very things which on 
earth made us to shed the most tears ? 
Sorrowful is most honourable! 

Again, in the eighteenth verse we read of 
a woman who is called Bithiah ; very little 
is said of her, but her name is most signi- 
ficant. She was the child of Pharaoh. Which 
Pharaoh ? Was she the daughter of the 
man who opposed the God of Israel ? Did 
the actions of the illustrious man whom she 
had saved from the river lead her to look at 
her own position and choose like Moses to 
suffer affliction with the people of God ? Of 
that we are not sure, but of this we are 
certain, that a daughter of Pharaoh called 
herself " daughter of Jehovah," for that is 
the meaning of Bithiah ; suggesting that we 
should never think any family hopeless, for 
God gets Himself honour in various ways, 
and sometimes by saving some one whose 


name seems a curse. The writer thought so 
the other day when he saw advertised, " Why 
am I a Christian ? " by W. Bradlaugh. 

Towards the end of the chapter, we read 
of some whose prosperity was their ruin. 
" Fat pasture and good " was their lot, but 
there were those who were on the look out 
for some place to settle, so seeing this 
desirable pasture they slew the shepherds 
who had had it in possession for so long ; 
teaching us that the more we have the more 
likely we are to be robbed, and that what 
makes our lot desirable may awaken envy 
and covetousness in others, and even riches 
may bring destruction. 

The twenty-third verse suggests ideas 
worth consideration. "These were the pot- 
ters, and those that dwelt among plants and 
hedges: there they dwelt with the king for 
his work." Do you note how WORK LINKS 
MEN TO KINGS, for you have potters, 
gardeners, and hedgers mixed up with the 


king. There are many wrong ideas in the 

world about labour. It would not be right, 

perhaps, but my pen had almost written, 

Work is the only respectable thing. And 

yet not a few people try to bring up their 

children to do without, and you will see 

a man toil early and late to make money, 

getting no enjoyment out of it for himself, 

for he pinches himself to save; and when 

you get at the reason, it is that he may 

make his son a gentleman, which means, 

someone who can live without work. This 

is not according to the Divine idea, for 

we find Jesus saying, "My Father worketh 

hitherto, and I work." Is not the Creator 

ever designing some new form of beauty, 

and giving delight to the children of men 

by some new manifestation of Divine taste 

and industry? It is not for nothing that 

Christ, the wisdom of God, toiled at the 

carpenter's bench, and was as much the 

Son of God when He stood up to His ankles 

in shavings, as when He walked the seas. 
The apostles were men whose physical 
power had been developed by labour, and 
were used to toil before they began to 
preach. Indeed, if you take out of the Bible 
all the stories of men who worked for their 
living, you will rob it of its greatest beauty, 
and do us a terrible wrong. 

If some boy does me the honour to read 
this, let me tell him that the producers are 
the wealth of a nation. The men and 
women who work, whether with brain or hand, 
or both, are the people who save the nation 
from ruin. It matters not whether you paint 
a picture, or beat out a horse shoe : labour 
is wealth, and no shower fertilizes the earth 
like the sweat of honest toilers. Make 
something, then ; ideas or bricks, it matters 
not, only let there be something in existence 
at night that was not in the morning. That 
which makes Longfellow's village blacksmith 
worth singing about is : — 


" Each morning sees some task begun, 
Each evening sees it close ; 
Something attempted, something done, 
Has earned a night's repose." 

Is it not so in Christian life and expe- 
rience? What is a man's religion worth if 
it does not teach him to labour? Are we 
not to work out our salvation, and that for 
the best of reasons, "It is God that worketh 
in us"? The sunshine and rain are useless 
to the fields that have not been tilled. He 
who has no plough needs not to trouble to 
sharpen his scythe. Bibles and sermons to 
the idle are not, cannot be appreciated, and 
Sabbaths are but weariness to the man who 
does no kind of Christian work. Do not 
mistake yourself for a Christian because 
you like some popular preacher : it is on 
the same principle that wasps like honey, 
but they will starve rather than make it ; 
and some of these sermon-hunters come to 
steal what they could not earn. 


You would not have heard of these men 
if they had not worked. Their toil has 
bound up their life with the king's life. 
Why should you not act so that the story 
of God cannot be fully told without your 
name being mentioned ? Have you been 
at ease in Zion ? then rouse yourself. Oh, 
you who are on strike, think what you are 
losing, and what, perhaps, is worse, how 
much you are causing the King to lose! 
He is taking on fresh hands to-day, and 
He will not turn the old hands back if 
only He sees that you mean work. 

There is another idea which grows out of 
this, and that is, kings need different 
kinds OF WORKERS. If the monarch 
wanted a flower, he must have a gardener 
to grow it ; if he broke a dish, he could not 
make another. God needs us, not that He 
could not have done without us, but He 
has elected to win the world by human in- 
strumentality, and, let it be said with rever- 


ence, the interests of God are very greatly- 
bound up with the progress of humanity. 
If His Church is indolent, His cause suffers. 
If the Church is on the alert, then His 
interests are cared for. There is a sense 
in which God needs us, and cannot carry 
out His plans without us. It is easy to see 
that He will not convert the world without 
the Church's co-operation. 

Both gardeners and potters are needed 
by the king ; there is great variety in the 
kinds of work, so that various types of skill 
are necessary. Whatever your talent, there 
is room for you. Not only genius, but 
dogged drudgery. We want the artist to 
paint the picture, and the workman to frame 
it ; the author to write the book, and the 
printer to give it to the world. Perhaps 
you would rather be a gardener than a 
potter. It is cleaner. Yes, it is, but the 
potter has not the same worry and anxiety 
the gardener has. The artizan knows when 


his work is done for the day ; the clay 
will be in the morning where he left it last 
night; but the flower, will that be there? 
Has not the wind changed ? The breeze 
that has come over the barren steppes of 
Tartary carries death to fragile beauty, and 
the gardener wakes, while the potter rests, 
for what is the east wind to him ? Frost, 
blight, worms, drought — these cannot hurt 
clay, but they ruin flowers ; and so, in pro- 
portion to the beauty of the material, must 
be the anxiety of the worker. Do I hear 
some one say, When I was taken into the 
garden, I had hoped to have worked amongst 
the flowers, but I have been set to plant 
hedges and keep them in order? Well, do 
you not see that your work is of untold 
value to the man whose place is to produce 
flowers for the King's table ? You are grow- 
ing a leafy wall, that shall barricade those 
things of beauty, and screen them from the 
breath of the destroyer. Only a mother; 


nothing to do for God but to nurse children. 
Ah, but if you do it well, shall not your boy 
sing in heaven how his mother's life shielded 
him from harm and kept his soul alive ? 

Are you, my reader, one of those spoken 
of as " these are the potters " ? Is yours the 
lowly task to sit at the wheel, or to stand 
amid the soot of the baking clay ? Dirty, 
grimy work, you say. Yes, it is, but the 
gardener is dependent upon you. Does he 
want to send in a choice rose he has just 
cut? Does he wish his rose to stand on 
the King's table ? then he must have your 
help. He must ask for one of your vases. 
How true it is that no one man can do all 
that needs to be done, even with his own 
gifts. The man of scholarly mind, who is 
able to translate from the original, is not 
always gifted with the power of speech, and 
may not be as able to catch the ear of the 
multitude as some unlettered, but eloquent 
enthusiast. Many a warrior, O potter, shall 


drink out of thy clay pitcher, and, refreshed, 
shall go back to the field to win new honours 
for his sovereign. The treasure, so heavenly 
in its origin, is kept in " earthen vessels." 
The gardener must come to thee for pitchers 
to water his plants. It may not be known 
out of what pitcher the water came which 
saved the plant in the days of drought. 
There was a time when that plant of renown 
men call John Bunyan was in peril. You 
remember when he had given up blasphemy, 
and had become a Pharisee, instead of the 
tap-room he frequented churches, and was 
well-nigh eaten up with spiritual pride. To 
see him come out of church, puffed up with 
the thought of his goodness, evidently feel- 
ing that he was an apprentice-angel, and soon 
to be out of his time! the devil was surer 
of him than when his mouth was full of 
filthy blasphemies. But one day, as he came 
down Bedford streets, with his soldering-iron, 
he overheard some godly women speaking 


of grace in the heart. He had thought of 
taking part, but when he heard them speak 
of human righteousness as filthy rags, he 
felt they spake an unknown tongue. But 
God's grace came to him that day. We have 
all enjoyed the perfume of the heavenly 
plant, but no one knows the names of the 
three .vomen who were but pitchers from 
the King's potteries; the water they held, 
though, was that of life, and brought the 
precious gift to Bunyan ! 

TJiere they dwelt zvith the king. — Willing 
to stay in His service all " the days of their 
appointed time." Let us be willing to stay. 
Heaven will keep. Some day we shall go 
to dwell with the King in another sense. As 
one looks round the workshops and gardens 
of the king, we miss some who were wont to 
toil there. They are gone. Yes, gone from 
the soot of the pottery, and the burning heat 
of the garden, to dwell "in quietness and 
assurance for ever." 


Jeremiah xxxviii. 

/~\NE of the things one learns by living 
^~~ J ^ in London is, that all the grand things 
are not in the broad streets. Down some 
of the narrow and unfrequented paths we 
now and then drop upon a bit of quaint 
beauty, in the way of architecture or window 
gardening ; or, it may be, that in some back 
street we pass an old-fashioned shop window, 
in which are treasures of art and skill that 
tempt one to break the tenth command- 
ment. And, more or less so, it is the same 
with the highways and byways of Holy 
Scripture. Jeremiah will never be the popu- 
lar prophet that Isaiah is; he is not read 


with the same delight and frequency; yet 
there are passages of wondrous beauty in 
his prophecy, and now and then scenes of 
great dramatic power, such as this chapter 

The story is very remarkable. It is at 
a time of great terror. The din of war is 
at the gates of Jerusalem. The proud king 
of Babylon, who goes forth from conquering 
to conquer, and to whom battle and victory 
are synonymous terms, is marching against 
the doomed city. Jeremiah has all along 
testified that the only safety is in submission, 
and counsels his audiences to resist no 
longer. The war party are very angry at 
this, and accuse the good man of making 
the soldiers weak by his words. Eventually, 
they prevail upon the king to have him cast 
into the dungeon of Malchiah. "The good 
old times" must have been hard on men 
who had to go to prison, if this dungeon 
was at all typical. It seems to have been 

more like a very deep cesspool than a cell. 
Jeremiah was lowered into it, and left there 
to perish, feeling, doubtless, that he was in 
a living grave. 

Evil was not allowed to have all its own 
way. There was, at the time we speak of, 
a native of Africa, who was one of the 
king's chamberlains, Ebedmelech by name. 
He, though a man of timid disposition, was 
very kindly disposed towards the prophet, 
and having the entre to the king, hastened 
to intercede for the poor prisoner. Zedekiah, 
who appears to have been about as steadfast 
as a weathercock, listened to the plea of 
his servant, and allowed him to have his 
own way, charging him to take thirty soldiers 
with him, and save Jeremiah from his fate. 
This was clone without delay, the eunuch 
tiki ii.- the precaution to find what might 
pad the ropes and prevent the flesh of the 
sufferer being chafed by them, while he was 
lifted out of the dungeon. For this kind 


action the prophet was charged with a 
message to the eunuch, promising him 
deliverance in the day when the city was 

carried by storm. 

The story is an illustration of the way 
God saves men. Jeremiah's danger and 
deliverance were very real. In that dungeon 
he is, indeed, in "an horrible pit." There 
was no hope of escape. No light, no firm 
standing, every prospect of death, and in 
no long time either. If not eaten by rats, 
or suffocated, hunger would kill him. Would 
to God that we preachers could see the 
real danger to which sinners are exposed ! 
Their evil practices are sure to be their 
destruction, and it may be under very 
frightful circumstances. There is a realness. 
about the wages of sin that very few of us 
feel as we ought, or we should have less 
lethargy in the pulpit, and more earnestness 
in our intercourse with those who, because 
of their unbelief, are under sentence. This 



world, to many around us, is but a con- 
demned cell, from which there is no escape, 
until the executioner, Death, pinions his 
victim, and leads him forth to be destroyed, 
and that without remedy. 

On the other hand, Jeremiah was de- 
livered, brought up out of the miry clay. 
But the prophet's salvation was only a feeble 
picture of what God's grace does for those 
who take hold on Jesus. He remained in 
the courts of the prison. "Whom the Son 
makes free are free indeed." We who rest 
in Jesus may walk about the courts of the 
King's palace. 

"He breaks the power of cancelled sin, 
He sets the prisoner free." 

In the third chapter of Lamentations we 
have the prayer of the poor prisoner when 
in such peril. 

" Mine enemies chased me sore, 
Like a bird without cause ; 


They have cut off my life in the dungeon, 

And cast a stone upon me ; 

Waters flowed over my head ; 

Then I said, I am cut off. 

I called upon Thy name, O Lord, 

Out of the low dungeon ; 

Thou hast heard my voice. 

Hide not Thine ear at my breathing, at my cry ; 

Thou drewest near in the day that I called upon 

Thou saidst, Fear not ! 

O Lord, Thou hast pleaded the cause of my soul, 
Thou hast redeemed my life." 

From this we gather that God revealed 
Himself in some way, and assured His 
servant that he should be delivered. Is 
there some one reading these pages who is 
afraid of the consequences of his sins ? The 
writer would recommend that he cry ear- 
nestly to God. Be not satisfied with some 
mere form of prayer, but cry aloud to the 
God of your salvation. He never yet turned 
back the cry of an earnest soul, and He. 
will assuredly send help from His sanctuary 


ABOVE. Jeremiah found it so. It was use- 
less to try to climb out of the dungeon, it 
was only to fall deeper into the mire. 
"Salvation is of the Lord." You cannot 
save yourself. The effort will only exhaust 
you. Cry unto the Lord. Say, "O Lord, 
deliver my soul." He is sure to hear your 
cry. Ebedmelech is only a very poor picture 
of Jesus. The Saviour does more than 
send down a rope. He comes Himself and 
lifts us up. All those of us who are on the 
way home, are like the sheep that had- been 
lost, and are on the shoulders of the Good 
Shepherd. Do not be persuaded to doubt 
the power of Jesus. No pit of sinful habit 
is too deep for Him. No defilement of 
sinful pursuits is too filthy for Him to 
cleanse. He is Omnipotent. "Mighty to 
save." Saves to the uttermost, whatever that 
may mean; God's "uttermost" cannot be 
defined by mortal tongue. "Exceeding 


abundantly above all that we ask or think." 
"As the heavens are higher than the earth, 
so are my ways higher than your ways." 

Although Ebedmelech may be a very poor 
type of Jesus Christ, he is a very good 
picture of the style in which one man may 
help another. He had sympathy. The 
dusky-skinned Ethiopian had a heart that 
could feel for another. His kind heart bled 
as he thought of the suffering prophet. Now, 
sympathy is the mother of help. If some 
of those who read these pages will look 
-around them, they will see numbers of per- 
sons requiring assistance. For instance, see 
what a crowd of people are in the dungeon 
of poverty, and many of them deserve it no 
more than did the prophet. Then there are 
those who are shut up all their lives in the 
sick chamber. All the brightness and glory 
has faded out of their lives. The sun of 
health has set, and will rise no more ! Be- 
sides these, there are those who are in the 


darkened house of bereavement. For them, 
there seems no hope ; they think they have no 
right to smile : Joy is dead, and must be with 
the shrouded dead for ever. And do we 
not know of numbers who are in the dungeon 
of doubt ? Giant Despair keeps on showing 
them the bones of the prisoners he has slain 
in bygone days. There are dungeons all 
around us. Let us have sympathy for them, 
lest we have to be taught in the same way 
as Spurgeon tells us Bluff Harry was. 

" The story goes, that Harry the Eighth, 
wandering one night in the streets of Lon- 
don in disguise, was met at the bridge-foot 
by some of the watch, and not giving a 
good account of himself, were carried off to 
the Poultry Compter, and shut up for the 
night without fire and candle. On his libera- 
tion, ne made a grant of thirty chaldrons 
of coals and a quantity of bread for the 
solace of night prisoners in the Compter. 
Experience brings sympathy ; those who 


have felt sharp afflictions, terrible convic- 
tions, racking doubts, and violent tempta- 
tions, will be zealous in consoling those in a 
similar condition. It were well if the great 
Head of the Church would put unsympathis- 
ing men, especially ministers, into the Comp- 
ter of trouble, until they could weep with 
those that weep." 

Ebedmelech did not allow difficulty 
TO DETER HIM. Some men can work hard 
so long as there are no difficulties ; opposition 
to them is like a hill on a jibbing horse ; they 
must stop now : they " did not look for this 
sort of thing, you know." Just so, the eunuch 
found it was not easy — it never is — to undo 
wrong. "A stout heart to a stiff brae," is 
common sense as well as right. " If thou 
faintest in the day of adversity, thy strength 
is small." Ebedmelech knew that the enemies 
of the prophet were unscrupulous, and would 
not hesitate to cut his throat, but he did not 
give up because of that. He said, " Ought 


Jeremiah to be got out ? because, if so, it 
must be done, whatever may become of me." 
If you, dear reader, want to have an easy 
time of it, don't be persuaded to try to 
do good. Let things drift on without your 
interference, and you may drift too. It is 
the easiest way to get along ; but we may 
ride in a first-class carriage to the bottomless 
pit. If you mean to help others^ you will 
have to pull hard against the stream. 
Ebedmelech teaches us to spare the 

down the old rags and clouts he had gathered, 
and bade the prophet put them under his 
armpits, so as not to have them cut by the 
ropes. The rope of deliverance should not 
cut the flesh of those we save. This is not 

always thought of. We may wound men in 
helping them, and they may like the remedy 
less than the disease. We should think of 
the feelings, as well as the wants, of those we 
help. Kind deeds should be expressed in 


kind words. Some well-intentioned people, 
in trying to heal one sore, make another, 
which cannot be healed. We say of some 
really kind-hearted people, who have very 
rough words to express kindly ideas, "their 
bark is worse than their bite ; " but why bark 
at all ? It is told of good Bishop Hooper, 
that once when a penitent went to him in 
great distress of mind, the bishop looked so 
stern, and spoke so sharply, that the poor 
man could not face him, but ran out of the 
cell where the martyr was imprisoned, and 
sought some one more kind and gentle. 
Shall we not imitate Him of whom it is said, 
" He will not break the bruised reed" ? When 
we take the rope, let us not forget the old 
rags as well. 

Among the practical lessons of this story, 
there is the great truth that ONE MAN MAY 
SET OTHERS GOING. Ebedmelech went to 
the king for help, and he gave him thirty 
helpers. In the thirteenth verse, we read, 

« So they drew up Jeremiah." How many 
times this happens ! Robert Raikes had no 
idea how many wheels his would set in mo- 
tion. Miiller of Bristol has many imitators, 
and thousands of orphans are fed and clothed 
that he will never know of. If you will only 
begin, others will follow you. Don't be 
afraid of being lonely. Nothing succeeds 
like success. "To him that hath shall be 
given." Perhaps,- if you don't start, others 
will not. Not one of those thirty soldiers 
would have cared to help Jeremiah if Ebed- 
melech had not. The great mass of people 
are not original ; they can imitate, and if you 
can show them the way, they will follow. 
Do not wait for others to start with you ; be 
content to go alone. It was David Living- 
stone that set Stanley and Cameron to work, 
and the end of that lonely traveller's work 
will be seen when " a highway shall be there 
and the ransomed of the Lord shall return, 
with songs and everlasting joy upon their 


heads, and sorrow and sighing shall flee 
away ; " but if Livingstone had waited for 
others, he would have died, in comfort, it 
may be, but could not have had a grave 
in Westminster Abbey, nor have set in 
motion the plans which are sure to issue 
in Africa's deliverance. 

AND CAST-OFF THINGS. The prudent cham- 
berlain had seen " under the treasury the old 
cast clouts, and old rotten rags." No one 
else saw any value in them, but he knew 
where they lay, and put them to a good use. 
What a number of men and things are cast 
aside, like these old rags ! Do you see 
yonder woman in such dismay ? What is the 
matter? She has been upstairs looking at 
some old dresses of hers, and finds to her 
horror that the moth has been there before 
her, and they are useless. Would it not have 
been better to have given them to her poor 
relations, or to that widow who has such 


difficulty to find clothes for her little ones ? 
How happy those children would have been 
if they could have worn what the moth has 
eaten ! Have you not books you never read 
which some poor pastor in some country 
charge could coin into that which would 
enrich his sermons ? Have you not old 
magazines that would gladden the heart of 
some of those intelligent paupers who never 
get any lively reading, or save from ennui 
some convalescent in the hospital ? Look 
and see what you have " under the treasury." 
It may be that some of those who read 
this book feel as though they were useless in 
the world — men and women who think their 
chance is gone, and that they are like a cast 
clout. Very likely the proud nobles of the 
court thought so of Ebedmelech. He was 
only " that old nigger," and yet he has lifted 
himself into the Book of God ! Do you 
think that all the colour has faded out of 
your life, and your purposes are cut off? 


Could you not find some one worse off than 
yourself, to whom your face would be as that 
of an angel of God ? Could you not nurse 
the sick, help some weak and weary one, 
and yet be a comfort to many ? Cowper 
thought himself worse than an old cast 
clout, and yet his hymns, especially " God 
moves in a mysterious way," have helped 
many a tried one to sing in the dark. 

Ebedmelech found out that GOD PAYS 
THE BEST WAGES. He was fearful that in 
the meUe he would be slain ; but God sent 
him word, by the mouth of the man he had 
saved that, " Thou shalt not be given into the 
hand of the men of whom thou art afraid, 
but I will deliver thee." This, of all things, 
was the best news he could hear, and to-day 
God will pay men in kind, and so we shall 
sow what we reap. " Light is sown for the 


" The iron did swim." — 2 Kings vi. 6. 

r I "HESE words describe something that 
happened to the servants of God. 
Iron does not swim for the servants of 
evil. No such skill has their master, much 
as he boasts But in how many instances 
has the "impossible" been accomplished 
by faith and prayer! 

These young men appear to have been 
divinity students, and the college was too 
small for them. Elisha's ministry appears 
to have been blessed much to the young. 
He had the gravitating power, not merely 
of greatness, but of great goodness. There 
is something very interesting about these 


young men, and especially in the adventure 
spoken of in this chapter. 

They were industrious. — Not afraid 
of hard work. " Take thence every man a 
beam." This building had to be put up, 
and they felt they should like to work at 
it themselves. It is a sorry thing for the 
ministry when men enter it to be both idle 
and "respectable." What can be a greater 
curse than an idle preacher ? These young 
men would not be likely to fall into that snare 
of the devil, for they liked work. They were 
something like a young minister the writer 
has heard of, who, before he went to college, 
was a coal-miner. He wanted books, so, 
having some time on his hands during a 
vacation, he determined to earn some money 
for books by going down- into the mine and 
hewing coal for a few weeks. It is well 
for Christians when they have a reputation 
for being good at work. Why should not 
our employers say, "I have no one I can 


trust like that psalm-singer. ' Ever since he 
has been what he calls converted, he has 
been worth twice as much to me as he 
was before " ? The grace of God ought to 
get into every muscle of our bodies, so 
that with one eye on heaven, and the 
other on the earth, we shall be better 
workmen than ever. These young men 
took their axes, and every man was to 
shoulder a beam. Such students would not 
have shirked either their Greek or mathe- 
matics if they had been in our colleges, 
and the writer feels that he should like to 
have a colleague from such a set as were 
willing to toil as these men did. 

They were self-reliant. — You do not find 
them going to the prophet whiningly, and 
saying, " Please, sir, will you call the Com- 
mittee together, and ask them to get up a 
subscription towards building us a larger 
place ? " No, they believed in doing it them- 
selves. These men could have told Samuel 


Smiles a thing or two in the matter of 
self-help. They were self-reliant and earnest, 
believing that God Almighty would bless 
them if they laid their backs to the work, 
and were bent on doing their utmost. Could 
not the Church learn a lesson from the 
world in this matter ? Look for instance 
at yonder settler in the backwoods. He 
does not wait for plans. His axe is his 
architect, and if he marries, he likes to get 
a woman who is a maid-of-all-work, ready 
to milk the cow, if she can get one, and do 
without milk, if her husband cannot afford 
one, and who can help make a cradle as 
well as rock it. These are the men and 
women who are independent of Committees. 
We want Christians who can show their 
ministers how to do it, if they don't take 
the lead themselves. Let us get to work. 
If you want to be well patronised, patronise 

But though self-reliant, these men were 



NOT BUMPTIOUS. — They were not "bad to 
shoe," as they sometimes say in the north 
of England. One of the mistakes of self- 
made men is their bumptiousness ; they 
think no one equal to themselves, and are 
ready to sneer at all the folk who happen 
to know who their grandfather was. Not 
so with these students ; they said to the 
prophet, " I pray thee be content, and go 
with thy servants." Do you wonder that 
he said, "I will go"? Old age likes to be 
thought fit to go with youth. Why does 
God keep people till they are old ? it is 
that we younger ones should profit by their 
experience. Let the young man who reads 
this book never dirty his mouth with the 
words " Old Fogey." Nor let him be too 
quick to break home ties, and forget the 
old folks at home. Your mother is your 
mother, though the light has faded from her 
eye and the furrows are across her forehead : 
perhaps anxiety for you put them there. 


When you have any new idea, see if you 
can get old age to go with you to carry 
your theory into practice. The same thing 
holds good about books and old-fashioned 
ideas. The men of to-day have something 
to learn from the men of the past. Do not 
too quickly exchange those old puritan 
folios from your bookshelves for these 
modern thinkers. And especially is this 
true of the oldest of books, the Bible; and 
never begin an enterprise for this world or 
the next if the Bible does not say with 
Elisha, " I will go." 

These sons of the prophets were HONEST 
IF POOR. — Poverty cannot always be avoided. 
It has not been God's way to call only rich 
men to be his preachers. The plough, the 
loom, the awl, the fishing-boat keep sending 
us the men who help to keep the pulpit above 
mediocrity. And most likely it was so with 
these students. While one of them was at 
work with his axe, the head came off, and 


fell into the muddy stream. He was in 
trouble about it, and called out, " Alas, 
master ! for it was borrowed." If there had 
been in that college one of those supremely- 
respectable students who are too refined to 
shoulder beams, he would not have been so 
much troubled about the debt, but would 
have written a polite note to the owner, 
saying how sorry he was that there should 
have been such an accident, and hoping 
that it would not occur again. But he was 
not there; such men never lose the axe-head: 
they are not manly enough to take to tree- 

It would be well for Christianity if all its 
professors felt about debt as this man did. 
It would be well for us if we could not wear 
clothes that were not paid for. How some 
of the tradesmen sneer at religion, because 
they have names that are on the church-roll 
on the wrong side of their ledgers. It is 
not honest to order things which cannot be 


paid for, and it is a kind of Antinomianism 
that does untold harm for those who call 
themselves Christians and yet feel no shame 
for their debts. " Fine feathers make fine 
birds," but if every young man who has 
not paid his tailor's bills had to be stripped 
of his unpaid finery, some would look like 
unfledged birds. It is welPfor us, and a 
sign of grace, when the word " borrowed " 
calls up a sigh, and " alas ! " 

Does not this story teach us THE DANGER 
OF LOOSE THINGS? — The axe-head was loose, 
and so flew off, and the wonder is that it did 
not kill somebody. Supposing it had struck 
the prophet, and slain the man of God ? 
How terrible it would have been ; and yet 
we see old men and women slain every day 
by the loose habits of their children. Loose 
habits, like our old clothes, fit us easily, but 
they are dangerous. Loose company does 
untold harm, — like some ship in an harbour 
that has broken from her anchorage, and 


is dashed against the other ships, doing a 
great deal of mischief before she sinks. 
Loose tongues, too, which would be all the 
better for St. James's bridle. Oh, fasten on 
the axe-head, lest you do yourself or some- 
body better a mischief. 

What a great deal of TROUBLE is home- 
made. If this man had seen to it that his 
axe was fast before he began to chop at the 
tree, the accident would not have happened. 
Are not many so-called accidents the result 
of carelessness ? Are not men and women 
slain every day by the want of carefulness ? 
Have we not trouble coming upon us that 
might have been prevented by common 
thoughtfulness ? Have we not sorrows in 
our families which we have made ourselves ? 
and home-made trouble, like home-spun 
linen, wears for many a day. Very likely the 
man would have said, " I did my best." We 
have not done our best if we have a loose 
axe. In the west of Yorkshire, the writer 


heard a story of an apprentice lad who was 
chided by his master for something he had 
done stupidly ; the lad whimpered, " I have 

done my best," and was told, " Ah want noan 
o' thee best, Ah want thee to do reight." Let 
us do right, and then we shall put a wedge 
in all our loose axes. 

Have you noticed how the axe was got tip 
again ? — Iron does not swim without some 
help. You cannot raise the fallen without 
an effort. How was it done ? " Where fell 
it ? And he shewed him the place. And he 
cut down a stick, and cast it in thither, and 
the iron did swim." "Example is better 
THAN precept." He did not tell it to 
swim, he showed it how. We have plenty 
of preaching the gospel : we want men and 
women to live it. One of the evils of 
modern civilization is that large masses of 
population are left without better example. 
As soon as men improve their position they 
go out. Is it any wonder that some parts 


of London are so rotten ? The salt has gone 
where it is not needed so much. Singing 
of hymns in some Mission Hall will not 
attract and tell upon the neighbourhood like 
the same hymn sung every day at family 
worship would. If the world is ever raised, 
it will be by the grace of God acting through 
the Church upon the sunken masses. Has 
not God showed us how ? Does He call 
upon us to make a sacrifice He has not 
done ? Jesus did not try to save the world 
by remaining in heaven* He came down 
to die, — 

" Down from the shining courts above 
With joyful haste He fled, 
Entered the grave in mortal flesh 
And dwelt among the dead." 

What is the cross of Christ but the 
casting in of the Branch ? Yes, this is 
what has saved us. The cross has " drawn " 
us up. There is a beautiful little sermon 
in a verse Charles Wesley used to sing. 


It is a sweetly evangelical paraphrase of 
the story of the lost axe. 

" Deep sunk in nature's base desire, 
The sinful mud, the worldly mire, 
What but the casting in of grace 
■ The fleshly iron heart can raise ? 
To heavenly turn my earthly love, 
And lift my soul to things above ! " 



Exodus xxxix. 8. 

TT is more than likely that when Moses 
heard the instructions given as to the 
tabernacle and its splendid furniture, he would 
be ready to ask, Who is to do the work ? The 
commandment was given before the Divine 
Being indicated how it was to be done. But 
whenever God gives the law, He will give 
the power to obey, and, in this way, com- 
mandments become promises. All the time 
that Moses was wondering, God was prepar- 
ing. It did seem a real difficulty, the 
finding of a man of sufficient artistic taste 
and skill to do all the work that must be 
done before God could be worshipped accord- 


ing to the ritual He had chosen. Who 
would have thought of finding, amidst such 
a horde of slaves as the people of God 
were, the man needed for the work ? and 
yet he was there. 

It may be that this book may fall into the 
hands of some young man who feels himself 
very superior to his present circumstances. 
You want work of a higher order. If you 
are right in the estimate you have formed 
of your abilities, God will give you some 
better work. There is need, pressing need, 
for men of culture and genius, and if you 
serve God in the lower place He will call 
you to higher work in His own time. 

In His own time, mark you, for God is 
in no hurry. We are, and wish to push on 
the clock of time, but if we do so, it is but 
for a moment ; the hand goes back again. 
When the time had come for the Church to 
take hold of India for Christ, there was a 
man needed for the preparatory work, 


some one who had the kind of nature 
which should enable him to plod on for 
years, grappling with the difficult niceties 
of the languages, and making the lexicons 
and dictionaries for other and weaker men 
to use. And God had the man in training, 
but did not tell him what He had for him 
to do. In an obscure village in North- 
amptonshire, there was a shoemaker, who 
also was a Baptist preacher. In that man's 
heart there was a burning desire to go out 
amongst the heathen. He felt that he had 
powers which were superior to his position, 
and that he could spend his time better 
than in mending shoes, or talking to a hand- 
ful of rustics who could not appreciate him. 
One wonders sometimes if there was a sign 
over his door — 

Carey, Boot and Shoe Maker. 

Before he died, he would have needed a 
much larger one to describe his life work! 


Yes, we may settle ' it, that if Bezaleel 
will remain in the camp, sooner or later 
God will give him the carving of gold and 
engraving of precious stones, and will bring 
to him Aholiab and others who " are wise 
hearted? "to make all that I have com' 

Did you ever think of this breastplate, 

as to its size and shape ? In Exodus xxviii. 

we have a full description of this curiously 

beautiful ornament. It would seem that 

what the ladies would call the foundation 

of it was composed of linen — purple, blue, 

scarlet— with gold threads, all entwined 

together. It was made so as to double 

up when the dress to which it was fastened 

was taken off It had four golden rings 

one at each corner, the two bottom ones 

being tied to two other rings, which were 

inserted into the robe called the ephod. 

The two rings at the top corners were 

fastened to two golden chains, and the 


chains looped up to the two precious stones 
which fitted like epaulettes on the shoulders 
of the high priest. But the most splendid 
parts of this ornament were the twelve pre- 
cious stones, which were placed in four rows, 
and on each of which was graven the name 
of one of the tribes, so that each of the tribes 
was borne on the breast of the high priest. 

What a picture of Jesus Christ, as He is 
in His glory! Aaron with the breastplate 
is a type of Jesus, carrying the Church of 
God on his heart. No type can teach all 
the truth respecting Jesus, for Aaron did 
not always wear the breastplate. He often 
took it off. Not so with our High Priest, 
who has entered into the heavens. 

If you will take the pains to look into the 
book of Exodus, you will find that there 
is a very full description of this ornament, 
and it is given twice over. It is evident 
that we are to expect some lessons of 
practical use to the Church in all ages, and 


if we will look at this breastplate as a 
picture of the Church, we may learn what 
may be of use to us in the present day. 

There were TWELVE stones, each of them 
different, and each bearing a different name. 
Not one stone, with a solitary name. What 
VARIETY ! Shall we ever get one compre- 
hensive community from which there can 
be no dissent ? That has been the dream 
of many an enthusiast, and the hope of 
its accomplishment has made gentle hearts 
able to tolerate the idea of persecuting 
those who differ from them. So long as 
the human race differs so much in mental 

structure, we shall not be able to think 
alike, even in those things which are spoken 
of in Holy Writ. Baptism, for instance; 
most Christian men are agreed that it is 
obligatory : but what a difference of opinion. 
One would baptize every child , another, 
none but the children of believers, while 
another cannot see why you should sprinkle 


infants ; he would have none but adults, 
or at least believers, and these should be 
immersed ; while the so-called Quaker be- 
lieves that water is not needed at all. To 
him, baptism is altogether a spiritual thing. 
What differences with regard to worship / 
Some must have a form ; and who can- deny- 
that many who use the book of Common 
Prayer do so in the most devout spirit, and 
not in vain, as their holy lives declare, for 
their Father who seeth in secret rewards 
them openly ? Others are shocked at the 
idea of calling such worship prayer. They 
can find no prayers like those which well up 
from their own heart. They cannot use any 
one else's words ; and you feel they are right, 
so far as their own experience goes. One 
man is not at home worshipping anywhere, 
but in some venerable building, with its 
long sweep of Gothic aisles, and never is 
lifted so near to the angels as when the 
paid surpliced choir is singing, " We praise 


Thee, O God/' while another, equally faith- 
ful, is aghast at the thought of any one being 
paid for praising the Lord ! 

What difference i?i religions feeling and 
experience ! We find some joyous, and 
filled with holy enthusiasm, while others 
are pensive and almost melancholy. Here 
is one who likes to sing Charles Wesley's 
joyous strains, while another is most at 
home reading in secret Keble's "Christian 
Year." Some tremble for the ark of God ; 
others shout the battle-cry, and laugh at 
the thought of defeat. We are not alike. 
We are opposites of each other, and yet 
differ only as the stones on the breast- 
plate ; one is blue, another yellow, here is 
a bright ruby, there a sparkling emerald, 
while another is the colourless yet splendid 
diamond ! But all on the same breastplate. 

This brings us to another truth, — THE 

UNITY OF THE Church. All differing, yet 

all on the heart of Christ. Some of the 



stones were in the same row, though differing 
in colour ; others were as far apart as possi- 
ble, yet each on the heart of the high priest. 
It is well for us to learn that each lover of 
God is as near to His heart as any other 
of His dear ones. There are great contrasts 
in style and expression, both of doctrine and 
ritual, perhaps never more so than to-day, 
yet we are nearer together than we think 
for. The High Churchman, who loves God 
worshipping in his beautiful Cathedral, with 
its stained glass and pealing anthems, seems 
to be a long way from " the Brethren " 
who, in some humble upper room, try to 
reproduce the simple breaking of bread ; and 
yet they are but at the opposite corners of 
the breastplate, for they agree in loving and 
reverencing the Christ of God. Charles 
Haddon Spurgeon and Canon Liddon 
differ vastly in many things, but it would 
be hard to say which of them is the most 
vehement in his hatred of sin, and the most 


courageous in denouncing the vile thing 
that dishonours God. 

No one can mix much in the Churches of 
Christ without perceiving, amidst all the 
contrasts, the strong love there is for the 
Master. There is unity in this, any way, 
and this is the most important. If we had 
persecutions as our heritage, there is not 
one of the different sects but would furnish 
its quota of men and women who would 
go down to death singing in triumph. 
Doubtless, before to-day, there have been 
burned at the same stake men who differed 
in some minor doctrine or ritual. 

We get an illustration of the unity of the 
Church when some enemy of God writes 
a book which threatens to destroy the 
foundations of faith. There and then, men 
who differ much, yet agree in this, to sit 
down and write some vigorous answer to 
the common foe. The Temperance plat- 
form is to-day what the Anti-Slavery plat- 

form used to be,_a sort of breastplate, on 
which men may be found, wide apart in all 
but love for God and hatred to sin. 

Melancthon used to tell a story when 
any sneered or sorrowed about the divisions 
in the Church. " We are not so far apart as 
you think," he would say. " Did you ever 
hear of the time when the shepherds' dogs 
quarrelled and fought? The wolves heard 
of it, and thought that the time had come 
for them to go down and take the sheep. 
However, one wiser than the rest suggested 
that one of their number should go first, 
and see how matters stood. He came back 
sooner than was expected, and was asked. 
Are the dogs quarrelling? Yes. Well, 
shall we go ? No, said he, for though I 
htwnl them snarling and snapping as I 
i\uuo down the hill, as soon as they saw 
mo they i;ave up fighting, and came at 
uu\ so that 1 had hard work to escape!" 

Si> it i«; to-day. The enemy has only to 


show himself, and men who differ amongst 
themselves agree to drive him back. The 
pity is that they do not see the need there 
is, not only for the love of God, but the love 
of the brother also. Let us learn from the 
different precious stones being on the same 
breastplate not to be vexed at the others 
for not being the same colour as ourselves, 
but thankful that He accepts us as well as 
them ; and let us show our gratitude by 
shining and sparkling as much as possible. 
They were all precious stones ; not one was 
mean or contemptible. God's Church has 
ever been COSTLY. No jewel is what it 
afterwards becomes when first found. Dia- 
monds, before they have been in the hands 
of the lapidary, seem of little beauty. But 
they pay for the pains they cost. What 
would poor human nature be but for what 
God has spent upon it ? If it were not for 
the love of God in Jesus Christ, we should 
wonder that He should be so patient with 


us, and that he bears with us in our educa- 
tion and training. Yet when we think of 
Gethsemane and Calvary, we can understand 
all the rest. If God can so love us when 
we are sinners, no wonder that He loves 
us when we repent and believe on Jesus. 

Shall not those of us who have been long 
in the Church of God bear with the ignorance 
and folly of those who have only just been 
dug out of the mine ? Let not the stone 
which sparkles in its setting sneer at that 
which only looks like a pebble. The Master 
has chosen it ; He knows that He has put 
within its rude exterior that which only needs 
time and skill to make it " shine as the stars 
for ever and ever," 

"Beloved, if God so loved us, we ought 
also to love one another." If God has chosen 
us, who would yet have been pebbles but for 
His grace that picked us up, and worked out 
His design in us, shall we not love the rest 
of His Church ? Other Christians are of 


value to God ; the most lowly-born and 
ignorant of His saints cost God as much as 
the most wealthy or refined. Shall we not 
feel rather ashamed when we get to heaven, 
and see there some whom we would not 
speak to on earth ? As we come in at the 
North Gate, others will enter from the South. 
We shall " sit down " with them in our 
Father's house above : why should we not sit 
down together in our houses below ? Pure 
religion is to visit the fatherless and widows 
in their affliction ; we shall be glad enough 
to visit some of these in their mansions of 
glory : should we not visit them now in their 
cellars and garrets ? 

If God sets such a value upon us, shall we 
not set value upon ourselves. Not in the 
way of pride or vainglory, but in the abhor- 
rence of evil, and even in avoiding the 
appearance of it. God having loved us and 
set us apart for Himself, "let us cleanse 
ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and 


spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of 

Why were these precious stones put upon 
the breastplate ? They were not on the 
mitre ; no, they were upon the heart, teach- 
ing us that the Church is beloved. We 
need not then to envy John, that he was 
allowed to lean on the breast of Jesus. Is 
not every believer there ? If we do not hear 
the beating of Christ's heart, it is because we 
do not listen for it. One reason why we 
allow ourselves to be brought into heaviness 
is because we lose sight of the fact that God 
is loving us as much now as when He 
punished His Son for our sins. The love 
of God is like everything else of His, not 
changeable. You are loving One who ap- 
preciates your affection, and who will not 
waste your heart's love. Oh, how much love 
is thrown away ! Men and women pouring 
out their heart's chief treasure on those who 
are altogether unworthy of it. If we loved 


God with the same intensity that we often 
love our fellows, how He would delight Him- 
self in us ! Have you, in your readings in the 
Prophets, marked how the Divine Being be- 
wails the love which His chosen people have 
wasted upon unworthy objects ? how He 
yearn* to have back the »love they once 
showed to Him ? And He is the same to- 
day ; there is a mine of spiritual meaning in 
the words, " I love them that love me." 
And is there any way of learning to love God 
like knowing His love to us? Think then 
of the place you hold in God's affection. 
You are on the heart of the High Priest. 
You may have been under some misappre- 
hension on this point, and have grieved over 
what seemed His forgetfulness of you. 

Do you see yonder woman, who is bidding 
good-bye to her son ? He is leaving the 
quiet farm-house where he was born, and 
going up to London to a situation. His 
mother has given him, as a parting present, 


a locket with her likeness, for which he kisses 
her. He promises to write every week, and 
so they part. A few months roll past, and 
every week comes the looked-for letter. But 
one morning, the letter day, there is no 
tidings, and the next, and the next ! Oh, 
dear, what is the matter ? Can he have 
forgotten me ? A few days more, and there 
comes a telegram from his lodgings, telling 
that the lad is very ill, and seems likely to 
die. How soon the mother is gone ! She 
arrives at the lodgings. Thank God the 
blinds are not down! She is shown into 
his room. He is insensible. Does not know 
her ; but lies quiet, and yet; is in the grasp 
of fierce disease. She sits awhile, and then, 
mother-like, looks at his books and papers, 
folds up his clothes. There is his watch and 
pocket-book, but she does not see the locket. 
It will be in some of his pockets. She looks : 
no ; well, but in his desk, hid away under 
his papers ? No ; can he have lost it ? 


How jealous she is as she finds cartes-de- 
visite of friends and companions, but no 
locket. She cannot ask him, for he knows 
nothing. Ah me, my boy has forgotten 
his mother, and has lost the likeness he once 
kissed so fondly. But now he turns over, 
and the anxious mother hastens to shake 
his pillow, when, see, there is something 
bright under his shirt, — yes, next his heart 
is the locket, and he is more precious than 
ever ! 

Believer, thou art on the breast of God ] 
We cannot read with attention the de- 
scription given of this type of the Church 
without noticing the great pains which were 
taken to keep it from being lost. It was 
not only fastened to the shoulders by chains, 
themselves as strong as they were beautiful, 
but the bottom part of the breastplate was 
fastened by two rings lashed to the two rings 
which were put into the ephod for the pur- 
pose of holding the ornament. Does not 


this tell us of the SECURITY of the Church ? 
As we think of these chains and lashings, 
how can we help thinking of one who said, 
"Who shall separate us from the love of 
Christ ? " You fear, dear reader, sometimes, 
that you shall not be able to hold out to 
the end. Think again : it is not you, but 
God. " Perfect love casteth out fear." Not 
merely your love, which in some sense can 
never be perfect, but the love of God, which 
is perfection. We wonder what became of 
the breastplate. Did it survive all the 
changes in Jewish history ? We do not 
read of any other being made. Is it in 
existence to-day ? Precious stones are not 
like metals that could be melted down and 
made into some other ornaments. So far 
as we know, not one of these stones has been 
destroyed. Did Titus carry the precious 
thing to Rome, and has it been thrown into 
the Tiber ? Or is it among the stores of 
wealth in jewels possessed by the Turk ? 


Constantinople has some rare and wondrous 
jewels : has it the twelve ? We know not ; 
but . we do know that Christ has said, " No 
man shall pluck them out of my hand." 
"They shall be mine, saith the Lord of 
Hosts, in that day when I make up my 
jewels." Still there is the thief; Jesus tells 
us that he cometh to steal! Watch there- 
fore ! It is most instructive that in the 
same discourse Jesus speaks both of the 
thief coming to steal, and the security of 
those who hear His voice and follow Him. 

The writer knew an aged disciple who 
was wont to tell how, fifty years before, 
she had been brought to Christ, and made 
very happy in His love. Several other young 
people had at the same time been much 
impressed, and for a time bade fair to reach 
the kingdom, but 'twas but for a season. To 
her great surprise and grief, they went back 
again. She was warned by the defection 
of her companions, and at times filled with 


fear that she should " also go away." So 
much did she feel it that one night, as she 
was walking home over the fields, just as 
she was crossing a dyke by a narrow foot 
bridge, she kneeled down on the plank, and 
clinging to the rail, cried mightily to the 
Lord that He would keep her to the end ; 
and so, fifty years after, she could rejoice 
in the prospect of death. The golden chains 
kept the breastplate in its place. 

"My soul into Thy hands I give, 
And if he can obtain Thy leave, 
Let Satan pluck me thence." 



i Samuel xiv. 

* I ^HESE were evil days for the people of 
Israel. Their enemies, the Philistines, 
had so subdued them that it was a crime to 
possess a weapon of any kind. Nor was there 
a smith to be found. If the farmer's plough- 
share wanted sharpening, he had to take it 
to the Philistines. But it was in these dark 
days that Jonathan shone so famous. It 
is yet true that difficulties prove our mettle, 
and that the greater the hardship or peril, 
the more is the victory worth telling. Poets 
do not sing, though newspapers may print, 
the account of some brilliant review ; but 
let " the six hundred " obey, and snatch 


honour from the teeth of hell, and Tennyson 
makes the deed immortal. The Philistines 
were encamped on the brow of a cliff, and 
were in a position which they fondly thought 
was impregnable ; but the brave son of Saul 
felt that he could not bear to see the foe of 
his country, like some eagle on a lofty crag, 
from which it could with ease descend to 
prey upon the flocks. 

The presence of the enemy should 
ROUSE OUR COURAGE. Jonathan could not 
allow the Philistines to be even at Michmash, 
strong as it was, without striking a blow. 
" What ! " said he, " shall these enemies of my 
country continue to oppress us, and we sub- 
mit to their tyranny ? It is true they are 
very strong, but I cannot bear to see them 
where they are, and not fight." Is there not 
need for more chivalry among the soldiers of 
Christ ? How sin lords it over us, even in 
England. Intemperance, lust, cruelty, igno- 
rance, are the enemies of our land ; and they 


do almost as they like ; they are slaying 
our people, starving our children, dishonour- 
ing our women. Think, for instance, of the 
history of one gin-palace. If we could have 
the details of one year's crime and sorrow 
produced by one such place, it would freeze 
our heart's blood. Did the inhabitants of 
any foreign country do us the same wrong, 
our nation would be in a blaze ; armies 
would be levied, the senate would vote us 
money, and very soon that nation would 
have to sue for mercy or fight for life. 

Where are our Jonathans ? How can 
they allow the Philistines to enslave us, and 
to slay our children, without making greater 
efforts ? If we could not tolerate the pre- 
sence of an invading foe, if it would drive 
us to madness to see the royal standard 
of some other country wave over Windsor 
Castle, how can we bear to see the arrogance 
and cruelty of the enemies of Jesus Christ in 
this so-called Christian land ? 



It was Jonathan who conceived the plan 
of attacking the Philistines ; which leads us 
to say — Princes should set the ex- 
ample. It was not the armour-bearer who 
was the first to speak. Jonathan said : 
" Come, and let us go over unto the garrison 
of these uncircumcised." If God has lifted 
you, my reader, out of the ranks, demean 
yourself accordingly. Officers, to the front. 
It is a shame when a private has to lead 
a forlorn hope ; and yet too often in Church 
history we find the poor and the ignorant 
more full of zeal for God than the rich and 
learned. Have you wealth? — use it as be- 
comes a prince of God. Are there not num- 
bers of men who would be ready to fight for 
God if they could be sustained ? You have 
the means : use them for God and righteous- 
ness. Have you learning? — use it to slay 
ignorance. Could you not teach some of 
those who are willing to fight, but do not 
know the use of weapons ? Have you the 


gift of utterance ? Has God endowed you 
with the kindliness of speech? Then why 
be dumb, v/hen your voice ought to be ring- 
ing out for the right and the true ! 

Why do not our Jonathans lead us forth ? 
Why do they leave the conduct of the army 
to those whom we cannot respect as we 
should a prince? Set the key-note. "Lift 
up your voice with strength." There are 
thousands who, like the armour-bearer, only 
want someone to say, " Come, and let us go 
over," and they would spring upon the foe 
with irresistible force. How the example of 
Lord Shaftesbury has animated weaker men, 
and made them feel like the armour-bearer 
of Jonathan. 


told the name of the young man who was 
Jonathan's armour-bearer, but he was worthy 
of the situation. Listen to him : "Do all that 
is in thine heart : turn thee; behold, I am with 


thee according to thy heart? As if he had 
said, " Look at me : do I look like flinching ? 
If thou art first, I will be second ! I am 
ready to follow thy lead : thou canst not go 
where I will not be close behind." If Jesus 
Christ could only have a Church like that 
armour-bearer, how soon the victory would 
be ours ! How many earnest ministers there 
are whose hearts ache with vexation because 
their efforts are not seconded by their 
people ! In how many cases the superin- 
tendent of the Sunday-school is sorely tried 
by the want of punctual and painstaking 
teachers ! Do we not know men who are 
willing to preach in the open air, and yet 
they must do it alone, — no one to help them 
to sing, or to stand by them. Should this 
be so ? 

How pleased Jonathan must have been 
with the answer of his armour-bearer ! How 
much easier it was to climb the steep hill, 
and to face the Philistines, as he thought of 


the brave man who was following. And it 
is yet true that the best of leaders is all the 
better for the knowledge that his followers 
will not fail him. Let those of us whose 
place is not to lead, yet help our commander 
by acting, so that whenever he looks at us 
he will see our faces say, " I am with thee 
according to thy heart." 

Jonathan knew that God CAN WIN BY 
A MINORITY. He said to his companion, 
" Tliere is no restraint to the Lord to save by 
many or by few!' He remembered that God 
had promised, " One shall chase a thousand, 
two put ten thousand to flight." If, in fight- 
ing the Lord's battles, we wait till we 
outnumber the foe, we shall never "do 
exploits." Joshua and Caleb were outvoted, 
but they said, " Let us go up at once and 
possess it." The twelve apostles did not 
wait, but, in the teeth of the Sanhedrim, 
preached " Jesus and the resurrection." The 
Reformers were in a minority, but they made 


the world ring with their protests against 
priestly arrogance and superstition. At one 
time John Wesley was almost the only clergy- 
man who dared the rotten eggs of the Philis- 
tines of his day, and now he and his brother 
have a monument in Westminster Abbey ! 

If you, dear reader, feel that God has 
called you to do work for Him, begin at 
once. Do not wait till you have an army 
at your back : they may only hinder you. 
Make a beginning, and remember that in 
the work of God " there is no restraint to the 
Lord." The fewer there are, the more room 
for Omnipotence. The units of Christian 
workers are the thin end of the wedge. Some 
one must go first. Why should it not be you ? 

At the battle of Michmash, we have been 
THEMSELVES. Jonathan said to his com- 
panion, "When we show ourselves, if they 
say, ' Come up,' we shall know the Lord 
means us to win." So they climbed up on 


their hands and knees, and after a while, the 
soldiers saw them, and sneeringly said, " The 
Hebrews come forth out of the holes." They 
t'len cried out, " Come up to us, and we will 
show you a thing." How Jonathan would 
smile as he thought, " The Lord has delivered 
them into our hand." Very soon he and 
the armour-bearer were at the top, and the 
light began. There were about twenty men 
killed, and then came an earthquake ; — God 
worked with the brave men who had gone 
alone. This "trembling of God," as it is 
called in the margin, struck a panic into the 
hearts of the Philistines. So much so that 
the Philistines lost their senses, and began 
to fight one another, and when Saul arrived 
on the scene he saw that " every man's 
sword was against his fellow." 

This might have happened if Jonathan had 
not gone up, but most likely not. God works 
yet by means, and delights in co-operating 
with His people. If you want God to help 


you, help yourself. Climb up the hill in 
spite of Philistinic sneers, and when you are 
at the top, the earth shall quake. You will 
not be alone very long. Saul brought his 
army after the brave pair had gone alone, 
and the number of Saul's people increased 
directly, as you read in verses. 21, 22. The 
enslaved Hebrews rose against their masters, 
and these also who had hid themselves, " when 
they heard that the Philistines fled, even they 
also followed hard after them in the battle? 
This is not said to their honour. Do not wait, 
then till the enemy has fled, but turn the 
battle by your bravery, even if it be by a 
single hand. But let us give God the glory 
of His grace. Whether we win by ones 
or by thousands, let us sing, as we shall in 
those glorious days when the enemy flees 
only to fall into the bottomless pit, and 
write it on the banner of the host, 

" So the Lord saved Israel that day."